Monday, November 3, 2014

Haunted by Kay Hooper

September 2014
How do you make peace with the dead if the dead aren’t ready to forgive? In New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper’s new novel, the answer lies in the twisting shadows of a small town, and its secrets yet unearthed...
When Deacon James’s younger sister Melanie calls him, terrified, he goes to her aid in the small Georgia town of Sociable. What he finds is a scared young woman in the grip of what she insists is a paranormal nightmare—and murder. Two local men have been killed under mysterious circumstances. And Melanie is the prime suspect.

Trinity Nichols left a high-stress job for quiet, small-town life. But news of the murders has left her—and the town—on edge, especially when there is nothing remotely ordinary about how the men died. And her investigation is yielding more than she bargained for, including a group of strangers who have descended on Sociable, some with abilities Trinity finds hard to believe, and agendas she refuses to trust. For some reason, they know a lot more than they should about what’s happening in town. And what’s happening is growing stranger by the minute.

Now Trinity, Deacon, and this odd band of FBI agents must work together to solve a series of disturbances so incredible that Trinity, and the town of Sociable, will be changed forever. She just isn’t certain who—or what—will be left standing when it’s all over.

I had trouble following all the identities and skills of the Special Crimes Unit (SCU). Despite providing a glossary of psychic skills and SCU biographies, Hooper's writing relies on her readers having read previous volumes of this series.  I quickly began to skim references to other members of the team and to past cases as I became lost, having not read this series before. As annoying as I have found regurgitating past events in other mystery series when I have already read previous volumes, I found myself longing for some comprehensible recap. Eventually, I gave up trying to understand who was who and treated the members of the SCU as a single character with fractured personalities in order to keep pace 
with the action. Perhaps it was because of this approach to the canon characters of the series that I was unable to connect with them. 

I found the members of The Group much more interesting and vivid. I would have liked to have known more about them through events in the book. Hooper relied too much on information dumps which undervalued their impact and this hurt the potential of the novel. A highlight was the presence of Braden, Trinity's oddly aware dog. This canine was not only used to move the story forward, he added a much needed way to connect emotionally with other characters. (As a fan of rescued animals, I applaud Hooper's use of a shelter dog as a main character and her passion for promoting their care and protection.)

It wasn't until halfway through the novel that the story really started for me. Before that point, key action sequences and story progression were trapped amidst a plethora of references to past cases, explanations of psychic skills and team members not otherwise present in this story. The effect was like being at someone else's high school reunion and being asked to participate in a conversation that mostly referenced events and people you have no knowledge of.  

The core story of this volume's mystery was a worthy story and one that I enjoyed for the most part. I can recommend Haunted to fans of the series and to new readers who are willing to sift through the extra data to experience Trinity's and The Group's encounter with a killer and paranormal events. I would be very interested in a Hooper novel centering on the town of Sociable and the members of The Group. 

I obtained a copy of this book from my local public library.

Haunted is #15 in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit mystery series by Kay Hooper

Hostage Haven
November 2013      September 2012

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