THE VENGEFUL DEAD (Jackie Rutledge #2)
by J. N. Duncan
RELEASE DATE: 1st October 2011
FORMAT: Ebook, 352 pages
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
Jackie Rutledge just can’t put her past to rest. Her Bureau partner is dead, but not gone. And her sanity is becoming as fragile as her career. Worst of all, her wrenching journey into Deadworld has given her unwanted new abilities – and exhuming memories she hoped to keep buried…
Now a merciless force capable of possessing humans is on a killing spree, killing the guilty and innocent alike. It isn’t long before Jackie is a prime suspect, struggling to stay two steps ahead of her savvy new partner, and her undead P.I. and paramour, Nick. But to clear her name, she’ll have to take on her toughest challenge yet: confronting an inner darkness as inescapable as the one she hunts–and capable of annihilating more than her soul… (Goodreads)
**May contain spoilers from previous book**
This is the second book in J. L. Duncan’s Jackie Rutledge series and while the first book, Deadworld, was clearly about Nick dealing with his personal demons, this one is all about Jackie coming to terms with her own.
THE VENGEFUL DEAD kicks off two weeks after the conclusion of Deadworld, and opens with another homicide. With Jackie on leave we view the scene through the eyes of the homicide detective, Thomas Morgan. This seems to be a staple of the author, introducing us to the main antagonist through a brutal crime. Duncan holds nothing back in describing the crime scene, and with such clarity that you are almost there. This was particularly harrowing as the crime this time involved the disembowelling of a pregnant woman. It is the spirit of the mother that ends up possessing the detective and going on a killing spree to avenge her unborn son.
This plot felt like just a backdrop to the main story and the main plot was Jackie coming to terms with the loss of Laurel, her partner, along with dealing with the new abilities she had gained due to the visit to Deadworld.
Duncan is an expert at dealing with the human psyche and you actually get a good vision of what Jackie is going through. From dealing with the grief of losing Laurel, to trying to come to terms that she is not the same person she was before. I liked that Duncan didn’t shy away from dealing with the healing process by using a massive time jump. Having Jackie on the homicide case as a consultant gets Jackie back into the thick of the action.
About two thirds into the book, Jackie comes face to face with the possessed Morgan and it’s through this confrontation we see the mirror being held up to Jackie because of one simple statement: “You’re Broken.” In many ways she is but it’s through this fear that she is broken beyond repair that we finally see her begin to heal.
From here on out, the story takes a far more sinister turn and the fear that the spirit (Rosa) is now taking possession of Jackie to enact her revenge. However, while I turned the pages frantically with Deadworld, this one didn’t seem to have the same urgency, even when the spirit of Laurel was in danger of being destroyed.
The conclusion of the story sets us up for the next book nicely and I hope that we see more of Ryan, the new liason officer between the FBI and the P.I company Jackie joins. What did seem out of place was the date that Jackie ended up going on with Nick. Whether it was to show that they were moving towards being a couple or a last minute addition, I don’t know, but I think it would have been better at the beginning of the next book.
Another good read, but somehow suffered slightly from second book syndrome where the transition from standalone to series was apparent. I also didn’t feel on the edge of my seat, full on throttle as I did with the first book. However, a great read purely for the development of the main female character, Jackie Rutlidge. Will definitely read the next book, if only for more Jackie.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
2. The Vengeful Dead
3. The Lingering Dead