Be Afraid by Mary Burton


Pros: decent who done it, and why

Cons: characters I couldn’t stand

Mary Burton’s Be Afraid is a thriller that uses one of my favorite techniques. Tell us about a traumatic event from someone’s childhood, then move on to the present, where something is happening that has ties to the past event.

In this case, Jenna had the horrible childhood experience. Her family was killed and she was taken and trapped in a closet for several days before she was rescued. She was only five when it happened, and she’s been told that the killer/kidnapper died of an overdose.

Now it’s 25 years later and Jenna is a forensic artist. Coming back to her childhood home floods her with memories. But her world is really rocked when women start turning up dead, and clues to their murders tie with Jenna’s own childhood trauma.

Overall, Be Afraid is a decent thriller. It definitely gives us a bit of a mystery to solve as we want to find out what really happened all those years ago. And, of course, figure out who’s killing the women today, and why.

But it has several flaws. First of all, I hated most of the characters. Even Jenna, for whom I surely have a ton of sympathy. After all, her childhood contains nightmares far beyond the norm. But she doesn’t get a pass for being an obnoxious brat, now. I know I’m supposed to think of her as “head strong” and “independent”. But mostly I just think she’s a brat.

Then there’s the detective who helps Jenna along the way. We get a snippet into his family life, and there’s some nonsense there that was ridiculous. There’s a giant rift in his family. And when you find out what it’s all about, you’ll surely roll your eyes, as I did.

Of course, Jenna and the detective have to hook up. Why? Because that’s the logical thing to do when women all around you are dying, I guess. And, because, thriller authors seem to think that every book requires a romance angle, whether it’s logical or not.

So, as you can see, “decent” is about all I can say about this book. If you find it sitting around and you have nothing else to do, give it a read. But don’t go out of your way for this one. It’s just not worth it.

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