Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fear the Dark - a Bishop / Special Crimes Unit Novel

I can always tell when I'm really, truly, utterly enjoying a book, and that's when I start reading it and literally cannot put it down.  No matter how late I have to stay up, now matter how many times I have horns honked at me because I am reading at a red light and don't notice it turn green, no matter how many times I go over my hour for lunch at work - I just cannot put it down!  And that has been the case with pretty much all of author Kay Hooper's books, and her latest paperback, Fear the Dark, is certainly no exception.

Hooper, in her Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, has created such an engaging group of characters, who come to life and jump off each and every page as if they were actually here in front of me.  And while Noah Bishop and his wife, Miranda, who head up the organization, certainly have my attention, it is all of the agents who work under them and the various people they meet in the small communities throughout the southeast on their adventures who really bring the stories to life.  And while, yes, the series does deal with an organization of government sanctions psychics who hunt down and capture and/or kill psychic villains of pure evil, Hooper manages to keep the tales grounded in reality and does not allow the psychic powers go beyond what what might deem the "realm of reality."

In Fear the Dark, two new agents (Dante and Robbie) tag along with two seasoned agents (husband and wife team, Lucas and Samantha, who first appeared in Hunting Fear) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of six  apparently unrelated persons in the small Tennessee town of Serenity.  And no, there is no Serenity, Tennessee that I'm aware of (although there are apparently a string of Serenity rehab/treatment centers throughout the state).  In each case, the victims appear to have literally just disappeared - footprints just stop suddenly; video footage show the person, then they don't; and one is seen leaving a crowded theater, but he never appears in the lobby on the other side of the door!  It seems the circumstances are completely without explanation - until the SCU shows up on the scene.

Hooper takes an interesting twist in this story, as the psychic who has kidnapped these individuals has the unique ability to warp memories and convince people they have seen - or have not seen, as the case may be - things that may or may not be real.  At one point, he nearly convinces Robbie that she has killed her new partner, Dante.  Is he mind controlling or is he simply adjusting memories?  This is something the SCU has to determine.  When a cop who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time turns up dead, they realize the kidnapper has upped the game and their time is running out to find the victims.

Only ... one victim isn't quite the victim that the kidnapper supposed.  Despite the utter and complete darkness in which the victims are being held, one victim is just a bit stronger than the rest, and when she escapes his clutches, she could very well provide the key to the puzzle that will help the SCU and local sheriff's office rescue the others.  Or, is that all simply a part of the twisted plan of the kidnapper to extract the ultimate revenge?  With this story, the reader is never quite sure!

The only problem I ever have with the Kay Hooper books is that I love them so much, I can't help but tear through them and read them in just a matter of days - - yet, once I finish them, I'm a bit saddened, as I know it's going to be a another year before I can get the next book to read!

RATING:  10 not-so-safe security systems out of 10 for building suspense, maintaining the mystery, and shocking the daylights out of me with that explosive ending!

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