Rage by Debra Webb

Rage by Debra Webb
Publisher: Grand Central
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (368 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When Jess Harris moved back to her Alabama hometown, she thought she’d left her past behind her. But the blood bath the new Major Crimes deputy chief finds at a murder scene is beyond even the savagery of Eric Spears, the serial killer who now haunts Jess’s life with terrifying text messages. Amid eerie echoes of the Charles Manson massacre, Jess investigates the dismemberment of a cop’s wife while her baby lay sleeping down the hall.

The discovery of two more headless victims makes Jess wonder if it’s a gang-related slaying, a personal vendetta . . . or something else. And the sudden reappearance of her ex-husband makes her question her future with Chief of Police Dan Burnett. Now as the net widens to include a shocking suspect, Jess realizes that the identity of the killer may lie with an autistic eight-year-old boy. With inner-city tensions at an all-time high and the community calling for blood, Jess must race to save an innocent child-and prevent a final, horrifying act of rage.

The wife of one of Birmingham’s own is brutally murdered in their own home and the only witness is an eight-year-old autistic boy. When two more headless bodies are found, Jess is forced to wonder if the murders are related or if someone’s trying to scare her. The case turns into a race against time when Devon, the witness to the murder, comes up missing and it’s up to Jess and her posse to find him before it’s too late.
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Jess has a lot of character growth in this installment. She learns to let go just a tiny bit and let others help her. In addition, she finds a real place of her own so she can begin to settle back into her life in Birmingham. I’m thinking this is the step she needed to stop being Chief Deputy Jess Harris or even Special Agent Harris twenty-four hours a day.

The relationship between Jess and Dan is strained in this novel when Jess’ ex-husband, Wesley, arrives from Los Angeles to help out on the possible gang involvement in one of the murders. It was interesting to see Jess interact with her former husband, it gave you some insight to her current state of being. It was also kind of fun to watch Dan get twisted up over the whole situation as well.

Probably my favorite part of this series is the way the author weaves the main plot with the subplots started in previous novels. For instance, in this fourth installment, you have the underlying threat of The Player, Eric Spears, as well as the tension with the Latino gang, MS-13, playing in the background while Jess runs around solving her cases. These subplots give depth to the novels and, for me, make them much more enjoyable. I really hope that the next book addresses the threat of The Player more because he is what started this all and I would love to see him again.

Rage is, in my opinion, my favorite of the series so far. Each novel builds on the last and the level of intensity moves up a notch. The Faces of Death has rapidly become one of my favorite series this year and I’m not sure I can hold out until July for the next release – I’m that hooked. What will Jess, Dan, and the Birmingham Police Department find lurking in their town next? We can only wait and find out.

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