If You Dare (Deanna Madden #3) by A.R. Torre (5 out of 5)
This is the third book in A.R. Torre’s splendid Deanna Madden series. Yes, read it. Make sure you have no problems with slight overtones of erotica and some adult situations. Make sure you don’t have a violent aversion to a Dexter-type character, minus the sheer number of murders that Dexter was known to commit. Deanna reminds me of Dexter in that there is humanity lying in her person, sitting quietly in wait. Yet there’s the “dark passenger” there as well with Deanna. Except Deanna is a cam girl for a living. Her back story is tragic, and no doubt shaped the tendencies that oft take over her subconscious. In the previous two books, you’ve learned to love and hate Deanna’s impulses. One thing you can say? She’s never dull! I absolutely loved the first one, but the ending of the second one left me greatly unsettled, for a number of reasons that I won’t go into here (read them and then we’ll talk). So I was very curious where Torre was going to go with her in this book. Never fear, the mistress of her own domain has returned!
Deanna is back in her apartment in 6E. She’s getting real serious with her beau, UPS guy Jeremy. Except that he’s now getting serious grift from his coworkers and family members about his mysterious, smoking hot girlfriend Deanna. Namely, why has no one met her? His sister really wants her to come to a family dinner so she can meet her, and Jeremy begins to have some quiet doubts that he manages to give away to Deanna in a conversation with her. Doubts surface, and worse yet, so does a female lying in wait. Deanna’s druggie neighbor Simon who locks her in at night (What? Read the books and answer why she has her neighbor lock her in at night) has his sister staying with him. Chelsea, the sister, is not only a cop in training (not something that Deanna is happy about), but she’s got the hots for Jeremy, and moves right in after he’s had a fight with Deanna. Deanna sees red, and things quickly escalate. The jealousy brewing between the two begins to come in between Deanna and Jeremy, along with Deanna’s unhappy thoughts about “meeting the family”, and the domino falls over. Deanna wakes up one morning with a broken nose and blood in her apartment. Worse yet? Her attempts to contact Jeremy end up with a phone that goes right to voicemail. A new UPS guy shows up to deliver her boxes. No one has any idea where Jeremy is. The minute the police detectives show up, Deanna knows something bad happened (she’s tried to remember; to no avail). They question her, and inform her that Jeremy is in a hospital fighting for his life after being stabbed and falling six stories out of a window. Not just any window, mind you- HER apartment window! They find blood in Deanna’s trunk, and arrest her for Jeremy’s attempted murder. Deanna decides her best shot is to confess to the attempted murder, even though she has no memory of it. (Why? Why? Self-guilt and she thinks that Jeremy deserves better than her, so this is her ‘punishment’). She goes in the jail awaiting a trial, but the lead detective, much as she wants to think Deanna is guilty, realizes when she pleads guilty with little or no fight, that something is fishy in Denmark. They begin investigating more in depth. Through a series of startling events that this reader didn’t see coming, the answers are there, and whatever it was that toppled over that domino, well, it’s unbelievable and page-turning to the end. Torre definitely outdid herself again. The turn of events, the perp, and the ending to this-Deanna’s story and Jeremy’s part in it- was incredibly satisfying. I prayed that Torre did not take an easy, clichéd way out of this, and she didn’t. She also managed to do it without insulting the integrity of her characters. The actions of all involved made sense, and there was no airy, fairy happily-ever-after Cam Princess resolution to this dark tale. If I can get more people to invest in this series, I would be doing many a favor. I can’t wait until her next one to see what awaits Deanna- and the reader- next.