“14” by J.T. Ellison

14 My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Part of the fun of reading “14” is the novel’s setting. Set in and around Nashville, it’s fascinating to see various settings, place and restaurants show up in the fictional world of homicide detective Taylor Jackson.

For the second installment in the Taylor Jackson series, J.T. Ellison pits Jackson against the Snow White serial killer. The killer held Nashville in a grip of terror years before and then disappeared. Now the killer is back and up to his or her old tricks, selecting victims who look like Snow White and leaving them behind with deep red lipstick and some kind of strange residue on their temples. Taylor faces a race against the clock to find the killer when a young girl who fits the killer’s target profile is taken from a bar. Taylor also faces the ticking clock of her upcoming wedding, hoping to solve the crime before she leaves on a few weeks of honeymoon bliss.

The ticking clock both helps and hinders “14” at several points. In many ways, the concept of a race against time is similar to that used on the TV series, “24” and the strengths and weaknesses of that are apparent here. Certain things happen in the course of the story that strain the credibility of just how long it takes to move from one point to another geographically.

The story is an intriguing one and had it been left merely as a serial killer/detective thriller it might have warranted a higher rating from me. However, the story brings in some personal aspects of Taylor’s life to the story that, at first, seem a bit of a distraction from the driving force of the narrative. But it doesn’t take long to figure out that Ellison isn’t bringing these in for no reason and to figure out some of the novel’s turning points before Taylor does. I don’t mind seeing and hearing about the personal lives of our heroes in these kinds of stories (half the reason I read each new Elizabeth George installment is to catch up with her cast of characters), but I do wish these segments had been a bit more authentic and didn’t feel as forced as they do.

Through most of the book, Ellison shows a flare for telling a good mystery story and I’m intrigues enough by “14” to give some of her other offerings a try.

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