Title: Prey of Desire
Author: JC Gatlin
Genre: Mystery-Suspense, New Adult
Published: February 2014
They said the disappearance of two high school students over 25 years ago was a mystery that couldn’t be solved.
No one ever said it shouldn’t be.
Following the abrupt end of a relationship, college student Kimberly Bradford finds comfort in the friendship she develops with her over-the-top neighbor, Mallory. Mallory encourages her to get back out there. She would, of course, if it weren’t for the thrilling little love notes and gifts she’s been receiving.
Kim thinks they’re from her ex-fiancée, not realizing he’s been murdered. Worse, whoever is sending her all the extra attention is not only in her inner-circle, but has a connection to that unsolved murder some 25 years ago. That connection puts her life in danger, and exposes secrets better left buried around her closest friends and family.
I am absolutely in love with suspense and thriller novels. It’s always exciting to wonder what is going to come next, who is the one committing the crimes and just how the protagonists are going to uncover the criminal. That’s why, when I came across Sage’s blog tour for Prey of Desire by JC Gatlin, I just had to join in on the fun.
The beginning of a novel is what I use to judge how good the rest of the story will be; if it starts off slow but with depth, I’ll read on in hopes that the story will get interesting. If the story starts off fast-paced and with depth, I’ll know that the rest of the novel will either be the same or have a surprising ending. Thankfully, Prey of Desire was the latter.
It opens with a distraught half naked teenager running through the forest with the naked, lifeless body of his girlfriend in his arms. After running for a while, he spots her house and rushes inside to get her father’s help. Very calmly, the girl’s father rests her body on the table and shuts her eyes for her while the boy continues to freak out and wonder why her father isn’t calling an ambulance. I mean, the girl is already bloating and looks extremely pale. That’s more than enough reason to call an ambulance. Instead, the father lunges after the boy with an awl and jams it right into one of his eyes!
With an opening like this, I was hooked and dying to know how the beginning would affect the rest of the story. After this scene, the author skips 25 years ahead and introduces us to Ross McGuire, whose on-and-off girlfriend just broke up with him… again. Ross is at a payphone deciding whether or not he should call her before he leaves town or whether he should call her and beg for her back. The choice is made for him when a man comes up behind him and murders him by stabbing him hard in one of his eyes. At this point in the book, I knew for sure that this was obviously the same killer from the beginning of the story. But, why would he be going after a stranger like Ross? Why was he still going after anyone? Didn’t his daughter die years ago? What was his reason for murdering now?
After Ross’ killing, readers get a chance to meet his girlfriend, Kimberly Bradford, who is wondering why Ross hasn’t called yet and made up with her like he usually does. Kimberly is a college student with an average past; her mother passed away from cancer, her father decided to remarry, and she moved away to a small town to live with her grandfather whom she’s always felt close to. She becomes best friends with Mallory, a girl who is an attention whore and extremely conceited, and most of the novel revolves around what she and Mallory do.
I’ll be honest. I was bored out of my wits when reading about Kimberly and Mallory’s adventures in dating and life. I couldn’t care less about the nineteen-inch muscled baseball player who caught Mallory’s eye or about the trips Kim made to the nursing home to see her grandfather. Sure, it showed off Kim’s soft side and how much she loved her grandpa, but I don’t think it contributed much to the overall story. When the author chose to throw in something about the killer, it was in small pieces of info that didn’t actually give any clues as to who the murderer could possibly be. For half of the novel, I pined for more suspense and action.
It was only in coming to the end of the story that things got heated, and I just wanted to fly through all the filler parts and get to the action and discovery. However, the ending was shocking as hell. I didn’t suspect that the killer would be someone minor in the story, and what was even more upsetting was that there were no clues that would imply that they were the killer. Personally, I believe that while the author was telling about the lives of Kimberly and Mallory, he should’ve had some police investigation going on on the side. This way, readers would get a chance to put the pieces together.
Overall, Prey of Desire wasn’t too bad. I loved how the author created a villain that could match the creep factor of Freddy or Jason. He was just the right amount of crazy and will forever have me thinking twice about the different uses of everyday kitchen items.
JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. He also maintains a blog about the art of spinning a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mystery yarn.
Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC grew up in Grapevine — a small Texas town just outside of Dallas. He moved to Tampa in 1999, and most of his stories feature the rich landscapes of Texas and Florida as backdrop.