Book Review: Jaci Burton’s Heart of a Killer

Posted December 30, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jaci Burton’s Heart of a Killer

Heart of a Killer


Jaci Burton

romantic suspense that was published by Mira on October 18, 2011 and has 407 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mountain Moonlight, Unlaced, Riding on Instinct, The Perfect Play, Riding the Night, Fall Fury, Changing the Game, Forbidden Fantasies, Taking a Shot, Playing to Win, Nautier and Wilder, Wild, Wicked, & Wanton, Thrown by a Curve, One Sweet Ride, Straddling the Line, Melting the Ice, All Wound Up, "Hot Holiday Nights", Unexpected Rush

First in the Killer suspense-romance series. This story is set in St. Louis, Missouri and the couple focus is on Dante and Anna.

My Take

I was very disappointed with this Burton. She hasn’t got her heart in it. The writing was perfunctory with bits and pieces of emotion.

The writing is so awkward. Burton doesn’t put any effort into making this believable but simply uses words to tell us that Anna suspects Dante of killing George and the rest. That he’s evil but not even Burton is buying it, she sure doesn’t try to make us put our money down. Heck, I finally started skipping over the sex scenes because there wasn’t any heat or heart.

If she’s supposed to be such a great cop, how come it takes until the end of the book before she figures out…oops, before Dante tells her…to run background checks and financials on her suspects? Why hasn’t Dante already done this or mentioned it earlier? When Anna hears the noises out in her backyard she does at least call Dante and Gabe before she heads outside. Alone. After NOT being able to find the uniform who is supposed to be protecting her. All these other, supposedly aware, men are dead. And she’s going outside alone when backup is speeding to her. Yeah. Uh-huh.

So, how intelligent do you have to be to know not to leave your phone sitting on the bar while you head off to the bathroom? Why would a drug enforcer do this?

The only believable part is Anna’s reactions, the trauma she still suffers from that night.

The Story

It’s the Clemons’ 25th anniversary and Dante has been ordered home by Ellen to help them celebrate. The very night he arrives, George is viciously murdered. In the same alley, in the same way that the boys beat Anna’s attacker to death. Right down to the heart carved into his chest. A good thing Roman is a detective now. He’ll understand the connection since Anna’s dad covered it up for them 12 years ago.

It’s a rough way for Dante to meet Anna for the first time since that night. She’s a detective now. Not a career move he would have expected. And she is obviously angry with him. An anger he ignores as he moves in on her. Emotionally. Physically. Not sure where it or he is going, but determined he won’t lose Anna again.

An Anna who doesn’t trust him. Demands information Dante is unwilling to provide. Nor does AFIS or Interpol provide any background. He’s a ghost. He doesn’t exist. Except that he’s here. Moving in to her home, her heart.

The Characters

Dante Renaldi has been in the Army and then Special Ops ever since Anna’s dad told him to get out of town that night. Now Gabe is undercover working as an enforcer for Paolo Bertucci’s mob. Roman is now a detective and Jeff sells insurance.

Anna Pallino is a detective too and very confused about Dante. She suspects she still loves him. His leaving without seeing her, telling her almost destroyed her. They had such plans for their future together. Frank is her dad, a retired cop. The man who insisted Dante get out of town, away from Anna.

Ellen and George Clemons have taken in foster kids for years giving them their first taste of a real, loving home. Twelve years ago, their children included Dante, Gabe, Roman, and Jeff. Young kids with juvenile records befriended by a young Anna when bullies confronted them at school.

Captain Pohanski is Anna’s boss and okay with his detectives working cases unofficially. Contrary to the norm, he’s also okay with the FBI credentials that Dante flashes.

Tony Maclin was a senior in high school prepping to pursue a degree in art when he goes off to college. But that night, 12 years ago, he was intent on raping and killing Anna when the boys heard her scream. Hopped up on drugs, it took a lot to put him down. Susan Maclin is his mother, another artist, and it’s just killing Anna that their actions deprived her of her son. Sam Maclin is Susan’s remaining son, another artist. Both Anna and Dante think he’s hiding something.

The Cover and Title

The cover gives the impression of bondage with Anna up against the wall, seemingly nude while a heavily muscled Dante — sorry ladies he is wearing a dark blue T-shirt — is holding her head up as he angles in for a kiss.

The title refers to the mark the killer incorporates into his kills as well as the emotion in The Heart of a Killer.