Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

I don't often read thrillers. I tired of all the drama, and the lack of character development in so many of them. Thrillers tend to have graphic details of violence that I can do without. However, Becky Masterman's debut, Rage Against the Dying, is one of those rare thrillers. Her protagonist is a memorable character, one worth meeting again in future books. Yes, the violence is there, but Brigid Quinn makes up for all the details. And, the violence is essential. Why else would a retired FBI agent go back to hunting a serial killer?

How reliable is Brigid as a narrator? She admits she regrets the women she's been, everyone from a cop and tough broad to an ideal wife, a heroine, and a killer. And, she admits that "Keeping secrets, telling lies, they require the same skill. Both become a habit, almost an addiction, that's hard to break even with the people closest to you, out of the business." The fifty-nine-year-old woman keeps secrets from her husband of one year, a retired professor, Dr. Carlo DiForenza. She never told him about the violent life she lived before retirement, and the case she can't forget.

Brigid lost an agent, a young woman she trained to try and trap the killer responsible for the Route 66 murders of young women. That killer operated between Amarillo, Texas and Flagstaff, Arizona, killing one young woman every summer. The case became the biggest sexual homicide case in Brigid's career, and the one she failed to close. She remained in contact with the father of the young agent who became the killer's last known victim. So, when a man is picked up, claiming to have killed all those young women, Brigid is eager to believe him. But, the young FBI agent who asks Brigid to attend the crime scene investigation is suspicious of the man's confession. Once again, Brigid Quinn is caught up in violence and the world of a serial killer. And, she does everything in her power to bring about justice while keeping her husband in the dark.

Rage Against the Dying is a fast-paced, fingernail-biting thriller. All of the excitement and danger is there for readers who love thrillers. But, I'll continue to read Becky Masterman's books because of the character of Brigid Quinn. She's a lonely woman, uncomfortable in her own skin, and unsure of the love she's found late in life. She continues to compare herself to her husband's late wife, and finds herself lacking. She has no self-confidence when it comes to relationships. "I couldn't keep from fearing that it was only a matter of time until Carlo discovered the woman I really was." Brigid is vulnerable because of past relationships, and she's vulnerable now, realizing she is lying and trying to keep secrets from everyone she loves, and the few people she trusts.

Masterman's debut novel succeeds as an intriguing thriller. And Rage Against the Dying succeeds in bringing an original, fascinating character to life in Brigid Quinn. It's so much more than I normally expect in a thriller. I hope Brigid will be back.

Becky Masterman's website is

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman. Minotaur Books. 2013. ISBN 9780312622947 (hardcover), 320p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jane R said...

I'm so glad you added your review of this book in addition to your guest blogger's post. I totally agree with you about the excessive and graphic violence that seems to pervade many thrillers. So, I wasn't sure if this would be a book I would enjoy. But after reading your review, I've added it to my book list and will be on the lookout for it. Thanks!

Karen C said...

I'm one of those odd people that likes thrillers. Rage Against the Dying sounds like a really good read and I've added to my list. I appreciate your review, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you! I hope you both enjoy it. Come back and tell me what you thought.