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From Merrimon Book Reviews
Evil Without a Face
Evil Without a Face by Jordan Dane
by Jordan Dane

 5 Hearts  
Debut of New Sweet Justice series by a unique voice in the suspense genre
EVIL WITHOUT A FACE by Jordan Dane is the first in the Sweet Justice series, a series that will feature three unusual women --- a bounty hunter, a vice cop and an international operative.  All three are introduced in this first book but EVIL WITHOUT A FACE focuses primarily on Jessica Beckett, a bounty hunter who lives on the seedier side of town and is not reined in by standard police procedures.  EVIL WITHOUT A FACE stands at the edge of suspense and the romantic suspense genre lines. Reading like more like classic pulse-racing suspense in the beginning, EVIL WITHOUT A FACE integrates the romance elements in a subtle way with the romance emerging organically from the deeper elements of the characterization in a subtle movement that builds to one of the most moving intimate (though not necessarily sexual) scenes within the novel.

Seventeen year old Alaskan Nikki Archer plans to escape from her family to live a life of freedom to fulfill her dreams. Her internet friends understand her better, especially her Chicago friend Ivana Noskova, who tells her stories of Russian myths. When Nikki's mother Susannah discovers that her daughter is missing, she knows something about this disappearance is different. In Chicago, bounty hunter Jessica Beckett and her mysterious sidekick Seth Harper are on a hunt to capture Lucas Baker. The fugitive recovery doesn't go off exactly as planned. Suddenly Jess finds herself under suspicion, not exactly the best scenario for Samantha Cooper, not only Jess's best friend but a member of the metro police department, trying to work her way up in the department. As the criminal paths from Alaska to Chicago and beyond merge in a finely constructed network of global criminal activity, Jess faces her worst nightmare, a secret chilling past that haunts her and motivates her. Obsessed with finding one girl, she joins forces with Payton Archer, Nikki's uncle and a former NFL quarterback. With few clues and inner demons to exorcise, Jess's race to protect one girl becomes a dangerous heart-stopping journey against time. Will her past interfere with her judgment? Not everything is as it seems with the unusual cast of mysterious characters who surround Jess.

Jordan Dane introduces bounty hunter Jessica Beckett, a tough woman living in a tough world, a woman who carries a Colt Python, and a woman who will do just about anything to capture fugitives. In the portrayal of a terrifying crime that spans international borders, Jordan Dane heightens the by showing a larger, global network in the shape of the puzzle and a faceless, amorphous evil cleverly hidden and protected. Jordan Dane withholds some of the surprises, weaving several shocking twists alongside more subtle mysterious insights into her characters in just the right measure to maintain the high level of suspense. I have come to expect unexpected turns in Jordan Dane's work, but even so, several chilling twists surprise to this suspense lover's delight.

Jordan Dane has a gift for creating unusual gritty characters and bringing them together in a manner which crystallizes the emotional impact of crime. Tortured by memories of her past, Jess has a special impetus behind her search for Nikki's abductor. Jess has the ability to connect with the victims in a way that is deeply personal but also from her darkness, her past creates a transformative power, an ability to empower others which spreads outwards.

EVIL WITHOUT A FACE reads like a thriller in the initial pages. Each scene builds a carefully laid structure of the intricate interrelations between the personalities so that when romantic elements emerge, far from being gratuitous genre markers, the depth of characterization and the finely precise imagery combine to create a romance that left this reader gasping quietly at the beautiful emotional effect. In darker romantic suspense, Jordan Dane has a unique vision. She peers into the darker side of crime and indeed the soul, not just of the villains, but of the victims of crime with an insight that transforms the victims themselves, not glossing over the damaging effects of crime in their lives but empowering them in the midst of their brokenness.

Jordan Dane's victims are never just cardboard characters to be discarded to get to the crime. Jordan Dane treats the victims of crime with the same depth of character as she does those hunting down the criminals. From the  destructiveness of crime, the author leaves the reader with a sense of goodness or power that goes beyond just solving the crime or capturing the bad guys. Her books have a redemptive element. In this aspect. EVIL WITHOUT A FACE is most like her debut novel, NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM, but she takes the idea a step beyond. All her novels to date have this element but her latest, EVIL WITHOUT A FACE, crystallizes and expands on this characteristic vision.  Jordan Dane breaks new ground in suspense with this novel and defines herself even more clearly as a force within the suspense genre who will shape the genre itself.

Publisher: Avon (January 2009)
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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