In Killer Descent by Paty Jager, Shandra Higheagle goes to visit a reunion at the school in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she studied pottery. There she glimpses the professor with whom she once lived for three years as a student and who dominated and abused her throughout that time. Happy to return to Idaho and be away from the professor, Shandra does some soul- searching and discovers inner strength she hadn’t known she possessed.
Her boyfriend, Deputy Ryan Greer, who meets her at the airport and stays with her for the next two nights, does a lot to help her gain confidence. This gentle man eager to help Shandra get over a past he knows nothing about actually sleeps on the sofa and not with Shandra. Despite dating her a year, Ryan sees that she has some unknown-to-him fear of a physical relationship.
Early on the morning when Ryan is supposed to return to work, he gets a call that a frozen body has been discovered at the bottom of the ski lift. He sends the body of Carl Landers to the pathologist, his sister, who finds a gunshot in Landers’s head. Landers’s current girlfriend, who has convictions for her work as a con artist, accuses Shandra of committing the murder, talking about supposed tapes. Shandra’s past with Landers and the clues left by an enemy to incriminate her cause the police to put Ryan on leave, though he still works hard to get to the bottom of the case and clear Shandra’s name, while helping her to heal from her past with Landers.
Killer Descent follows the personal journey of Shandra, who has shown a past she is running away from from the start of the book. However, despite our having seen that she has been injured and is working to recover from the pain of her past, neither we nor Ryan have learned what this pain has been. In the midst of fighting for her life, Shandra finds her own life and freedom from her past. This book serves as an inspiration for us all and helped me personally to face my own past sexual abuse publicly instead of keeping it to myself and only a couple close friends. Just as Shandra gains freedom in telling Ryan her most shameful secret, I too find myself starting to gain freedom in sharing my past, so I can keep the chain moving and enable another woman to express herself and gain freedom.
The plot in this book was strong, with so many clues pointing to Shandra, clues which obviously have been planted by her enemies. However, what adds to the drama is the knowledge that Landers videotaped against their knowledge his sadistic sessions with many of the women he abused. Does such a tape exist of Shandra? All of these details work together to make a dramatic storyline with an even more exciting denouement.
Ann M. Thompson performs the audio version of this book most ably. I especially like the voices that she gives to the characters. Shandra seems particularly realistic in the voice Thompson gives to her. Thompson uses strong expressions and timing, making this book very effective.
I really appreciated Killer Descent. The story runs strongly, and the characters show both strong images and good growth. This is illustrated in the vase that Shandra made for the Women’s Center in Albuquerque. It contains a woman with chains on her feet that fall free as it gets to her hands. This book mirrors that but ends on a slightly cliffhanger ending using itself, making me eager to listen to the next book in this series, since each book seems to get better than the previous. I give this book five stars!
Disclaimer: I was given this audiobook by the author, but it in no way affected the content of my review.
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