Twisted tale of lust for control, murder

Jan Jones

As a woman and an advocate for personal freedoms including the power to control our own bodies, I have strong feelings about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. I noticed the irony almost as soon as I started reading “Killing Streak” by Merit Clark. This book had a very complicated plot that boiled down to a lust for control. Sadly, I only have space enough to give you an overview.

Jack Fariel, Corie Farantino and Hennessy Markham grew up in Denver, Colorado. Jack and Corie dated in high school until best friend Hennessy decided to take Jack. The situation was both difficult and painful. Now Jack is a Denver Police detective, Hennessy is long dead due to anorexia, and Corie is married to Hennessy’s big brother, Evan.

A few months ago, Corie invited Brice Shaughnessy to stay in their guest house until he could find a place of his own. As the story opens, Jack has just completed one of his final radiation treatments for testicular cancer when he is summoned to the Markham mansion. Brice Shaughnessy has been murdered. He is shocked to see Corie. His long-ago betrayal still hangs heavy between them, but he can’t deny his still strong feelings for her.

At the same time, Corie’s husband, Evan Markham is busy playing his sick S&M games with his “assistant,” Vangie. Markham has honed skills that cause both pain and pleasure in his partners. He loves the feeling of control he has during a “session.” At one time, he convinced Corie to submit to some of his cruel games, but eventually she refused to cooperate. At this point, their marriage is almost over.

Jack doesn’t know that there is a painful back story to Corie’s life. In her teen years, Corie’s father left and her mother made it clear that Corie wasn’t a priority. Consequently, Corie turned to her best friend’s family for solace. Jessie Markham always made Corie feel welcome and cared for. It seemed natural that Corie would marry Evan and help him start a very successful consulting business.

As Jack peels back the layers of Brice’s life, he finds unexpected connections between him and several others. The evidence indicates Vangie is the killer, but Jack feels it is far too easy to be true. His gut says Evan is behind the carefully crafted frame, but he has no proof. As Evan’s mental state deteriorates, we learn that his mother killed his severely ill father and put pressure on him to be perfect. Evan developed a very persuasive personality making him very successful, but he also developed a taste for sadism and control.

Through careful planning and business trips he was able to kill without leaving a trace. But lately his lust for release through torture/murder has grown to frightening proportions. As the gruesome deaths pile up Evan tries to stay a step ahead of Jack but he is shattered when Jessie captures and shoots Corie.

Once captured Evan lays out the painful facts about his family, Corie, Hennessy, and Brice’s death. That information sends Jack racing to the ICU where Jessie is about to kill Corie. In the end, Jessie is dead, Evan is in jail and Corie is alive. Much later, Jack and Corie marvel at the fact that a sadistic murderer cared enough about Corie to save her life. Makes me wonder what’s next in this series.

I’m thankful that few of us have to deal with the secrets hidden in a trouble and tangled history. It is much better to follow those strange paths through a good book.