Tall, Dark, and Deadly Review
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Advances in technology often provide new opportunities to catch up on old releases. Just as the introduction of Blu-ray means that classic (and not-so-classic) older films are now finding their way back to the new release lists, the introduction of e-books (and the rise of e-readers) also means that older books are being rereleased in electronic formats. So now’s the time to stock up on those older releases that you may have missed—like author Heather Graham’s 1999 romantic thriller, Tall, Dark, and Deadly.

When ruthless Miami defense attorney Marnie Newcastle goes missing, most people assume that she’s simply gone off on another weekend fling. Marnie is well-known for her passionate but short-lived affairs—and no one’s surprised when she disappears.

Marnie’s friend and neighbor, Samantha Miller, on the other hand, is convinced that something’s wrong. There’s no way that Marnie would leave just days after moving into her luxurious new home. But she’ll have to work to convince the police.

Things get even more complicated for Sam when she discovers that an old love has just moved into the neighborhood. Rowan Dillon broke her heart years ago, and she wants nothing to do with him now.

As Sam struggles with her old feelings for Rowan, a killer lurks nearby, watching her every move while planning his next step.

Often traveling from the characters’ homes in Miami to the gator-infested swamps of the Everglades, Tall, Dark, and Deadly is the kind of eerie thriller that will often have you glancing over your shoulder, convinced that someone’s watching. While the characters spend plenty of time shopping and partying in Coconut Grove, the moments in the Everglades are book’s best, giving the novel a dark and haunting atmosphere that’s hard to shake off—even on the sunniest of afternoons.

The mystery is filled with suspicious characters—from local thugs to lecherous lawyers to Marnie’s own troublemaking dad. And Graham does a great job of making them all look equally guilty, keeping readers constantly on their toes as they try to figure out which one is really the killer.

The book’s greatest problems, then, come from the main characters. Rowan is a likable hero—a strong but compassionate man who’s trying to make up for the mistakes in his past. But his back-and-forth, will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Sam tends to distract from the mystery. Sam, meanwhile, often comes off as jittery and hysterical—and, in her run-ins with Rowan, a little too wishy-washy. Though she’s still hurt by the way their relationship ended all those years ago, her resolve to stay as far away from him as possible wavers almost instantly—and she spends the rest of the book alternately hating him and sleeping with him.

And then there’s Marnie. Though she doesn’t make many appearances in the book, she certainly makes an impression—and not a good one. Readers are supposed to take her rough upbringing into account and feel sorry for her—but she’s such a coldhearted character (not to mention a horrible friend) that, like most of the characters who know her, you’ll have a hard time caring too much about her fate.

While Graham sets up a suspenseful mystery in Tall, Dark, and Deadly, the execution is just a bit awkward, with problematic characters and unnatural dialogue. As far as brainless romantic suspense goes, it’s not a bad choice—but it’s definitely not Graham’s best.

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