The Killing Storm Review
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While everyone else in the Houston area is busy stocking up on supplies and preparing for Hurricane Juanita, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong has more important things to worry about. Four-year-old Joey Warner has gone missing—and although his struggling single mother’s oddly insincere pleas for help (and—better yet—money) don’t help her case, she swears that she’s innocent. Convinced that Joey’s mother knows more than she’s letting on, Sarah tries to help the FBI solve the case and bring the boy home before the storm hits.

Meanwhile, on ranches around Houston, a killer is slaughtering prize longhorns, leaving strange symbols drawn on their hides. The clues lead Sarah to a creepy college professor—who, like Joey Warner’s mom, seems to know more than he’s telling her.

Worried about Joey Warner, Sarah focuses her attention on his case—but she soon realizes that the one case could provide clues to the other.

In her third Sarah Armstrong mystery, author Kathryn Casey tells a twisted tale of kidnappings and bovine butchery, all set against the thrilling backdrop of a looming hurricane. More than just another mystery, it’s a race against both time and Mother Nature. While the rest of Houston is either preparing for the worst or fleeing to safety, Sarah finds herself venturing into the storm in the hopes of saving a frightened little boy. That heightened sense of urgency will keep you reading, wondering whether Sarah will find Joey in time—and if they’ll make it out of the storm alive.

As suspenseful as it is, though, the story feels nearly as emotionally distant as Joey Warner’s neglectful mom. Perhaps it’s partly because I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but I was disappointed to find that I didn’t really care about the characters. Sarah is tough, hard-working, and devoted to her job—and that’s admirable—yet she often seems too cold and businesslike. Even when she loses a close friend, she struggles more with her feelings of guilt for her role in his death than with her feelings of sadness. And although her young daughter is also grieving, Sarah barely even takes the time to comfort her. Though it’s understandable that she has a job to do, she barely gives her daughter’s grief (or her own) a second thought.

The mystery, too, is rather problematic—and even after comes together in the end, some of the pieces of the puzzle still don’t make a whole lot of sense.

So although the added suspense of the approaching hurricane makes The Killing Storm a gripping read, the cool and methodical main character and the killer’s peculiar crimes will leave readers feeling less than satisfied when they finish the final page.

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