by Allison Brennan

October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-345-50273-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Ballantine Books
Mass Market Paperback

This third book in the Prison Break trilogy has recurring characters from previous books in this series, as well as books from previous trilogies by this author. Ms. Brennan’s website is a great source of information on the order of her trilogies and recurring characters.

When an earthquake struck the San Quentin area, Tom O’Brien and several other prisoners took the opportunity to escape when the wall surrounding the prison collapsed. Tom used to be a cop and always claimed he was innocent of the murder of his wife and her lover. After the escape he even helped with the apprehension of most of his fellow escapees – men truly guilty of horrific crimes.

Claire O’Brien was only fourteen when her mother was killed and she was instrumental in her father’s conviction. When he approached her almost four months after his escape and begged for her help in clearing his name, she still didn't believe his claims of innocence. After her father gave her the name of a young law student who claimed to have found proof, and despite her misgivings, she began to investigate.

FBI agent Mitch Bianchi was going against orders by pursuing Tom O’Brien. He’d even befriended Claire under false pretenses, although his feelings for her are genuine. He’s unsure of O’Brien’s guilt, especially after Tom helped apprehend the other prisoners, and even saved Mitch’s life.

As Claire’s investigation began to uncover some interesting facts, she found herself targeted by the real killer, finally convincing her of her father’s innocence. Now she just needed to stay alive long enough to prove it. Mitch had his hands full trying to find Tom and protect Claire. Since finding out his true identity, Claire doesn’t trust Mitch, but he loved her and was doing all he could to find the killer before he could hurt Claire.

While the pace is slow and steady at the beginning, the tension builds as readers try to figure out which of a myriad of characters might be the killer. Once the pace picks up, readers will find it difficult to put Playing Dead down. Ms. Brennan brings this trilogy to a very satisfying close while introducing characters we hope to read more about in her next trilogy.

Reviewed in September 2008 by Jackie.

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