With Full Malice
by Brenda Hill
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432825720
Date: 11 April 2012 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Brenda Hill hits a home run with her third mystery With Full Malice. Major review publications such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly give it high marks. A young woman traumatized in childhood must overcome her fears and face life. Her parents were tortured and killed by a crazed man seeking money and drugs who also threatened Madison before the police stopped him and eventually sent him to prison.
Two people provide Madison's anchors, the police officer, Dexter Quinn, who found her after the murders and her grandmother, Ella Osborne. However, something has disturbed her grandmother and her declining health shakes Madison's world.
A local man, recently paroled, is shot and killed at a restaurant where Madison is working on a review for the local newspaper. With no other reporters available, her editor asks her to cover the story. She starts to do so, but the reality of violent death takes her back to her childhood trauma so Dexter, one of the investigating officers, sends her home to recover.
One thing discovered was the presence of a hysterical older woman in a large straw hat near the dead man. She tells a bystander the killer took off into a nearby field. When the police seek her, they can't find her. No one had any distinct impressions of her. The dead man had killed and tortured an eleven-year-old girl and was only recently released from prison.
Later, Madison does a newswire search on killings with a senior citizen present. Gradually, a terrifying pattern begins to emerge. Released killers are targeted and eliminated and a senior is observed at each scene. Madison and Dexter fear a conspiracy is at work.
Then, the authorities parole the murderer of Madison's parents and will return him home soon. Madison fears the man will kill her and she retreats into a coma. Efforts to revive her fail until Dexter tells her she must wake to care for her ailing grandmother.
An exciting climax brings Madison face to face with killer. The ending may be seen as inevitable, but the journey provides plenty of excitement as Madison must face and overcome her lifelong fears. An accomplished writer, Hill leaves intriguing hints about possible future novels.