PARADISE COUNTY by Karen Robards


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Robards reprises elements of her successful Ghost Moon (1999): a southern setting, lovers with children, a serial killer, and enough graphic violence to appeal to the Hannibal Lecter fan club.

When billionaire Charles Haywood is found dead in his world-class racing stable in Kentucky bluegrass country, ostensibly driven to suicide by scandal and financial ruin, his daughter Alexandra, a photographer for coffee-table books about architecture, returns to sell her old Kentucky home, Whistledown Farms, and fire the staff. But Joe Welch, her dad’s “dead-sexy” manager, refuses to be fired. The father of three, he needs the money, and besides, he has a contract. Though the two begin as antagonists—he’s a pigheaded, macho, overbearing bully, she’s a cashmere-sweatered rich bitch with a spoiled teenaged half-sister—the plans of a serial killer (“the predator”) throw them together. The predator likes to kidnap victims, rape them, and burn them alive with kerosene. In one dreadful scene, Robards tells more about the immolation of a dog than some readers will want to know. During their first night at Whistledown, Alexandra is awakened by the predator, who roams the ante-bellum mansion at will. When she tries to pursue him, he knocks her over the head, and she and her sister Neely run through a thunderstorm hoping to find safety at Joe’s house. Half-unconscious and protected by only a thin nightie rendered transparent by the rain, Alex throws herself on Joe. In Robards’s own brand of first aid, they even take a shower together to get the blood and mud off her body. Joe’s solid pecs, and even more solid family values, rescue Alexandra and Neely from an uncertain future, and the Haywood cat (Hannibal, of course), along with the ghost of Charles Haywood, rescues them from the predator.

Robards does a steamy, creditable job for those who don’t mind all those charred bodies.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-671-78645-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000


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