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Close to a Killer

Review

Close to a Killer

There's murder and mayhem, plenty of dead bodies, a unique hair salon run by convicted killers, and a teenager trying to hold it all together in CLOSE TO A KILLER by Marsha Qualey.

Seventeen-year-old Barrie's mom Daria is a convicted killer who now owns a successful hair salon called Killer Looks. Many years before, Daria was involved in a protest at a nuclear power facility. She planted a bomb in a car, which went off before it was supposed to --- and she paid for this with 15 years of her life. Barrie's parents divorced, and her father married Melissa; Barrie lived with them during the time her mother was in prison. However, when Melissa wins a fellowship to study in Paris, Barrie's father decides that she should live with her mother.

After a week of working for her mom, Barrie has to escape to the local bookstore and indulge her passion for books. It is not just the reading of them, but the smell, the feel, the collecting --- especially of old books, old photographs, and postcards. It is also the crafting of stories to go with the photographs and postcards.

Then the murders start. Paul Worthington, the husband of a client, dies on a Tuesday afternoon instead of picking up his wife at the salon. Barrie starts to notice that someone is watching her house. Friends are beaten up and left for dead, another client killing happens, and Barrie is pulled deeper and deeper into the frightening events.

The old photographs that Barrie collects become stories about killings. "Barrie knew exactly what it meant. It meant that she believed there were many people who were touched and tainted. It meant that there were others who could never, ever go back. It meant there were lots of solid families that had been smacked apart, with pieces lost or cast away and ending up for sale at a flea market in Missouri."

Barrie and Daria's house is broken into twice. The first time, chicken liver is smeared over the walls and everything is trashed; the second time, the intruder gets away when Barrie discovers him or her opening a window. Then Killer Looks burns to the ground. The murders are getting uncomfortably close to home, and Barrie and her mother seem to be right in the middle. Will they ever be able to trust their friends again?

The book is a gripping mystery and, as usual for Marsha Qualey, exciting and packed with fascinating people and plenty of action.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on October 18, 2011

Close to a Killer
by Marsha Qualey

  • Publication Date: August 8, 2000
  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf
  • ISBN-10: 0440227631
  • ISBN-13: 9780440227632