Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: A Voice In The Dark by Jenna Ryan

Title: A Voice in the Dark
Series: He's a Mystery
Author: Jenna Ryan
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 13, 2009
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 0373693788
ISBN-13: 9780373693788

No one knew what Noah Graydon looked like, but they'd all heard the rumors. How he'd been broken, even scarred, on his last case. How he never showed his face...until the day he took an overwhelming interest in one very special agent.

Angel Carter would have been a serial killer's next victim if not for Noah. The rescue gave her a glimpse into his world of shadows—yet she dared to want more. To really know if the passion between them was real.

They would have to come face-to-face if the killer was to be caught—and Noah could only conceal his body from Angel for so long....

My rating:

A serial killer has apparently returned to Boston after a five-year hiatus. The case goes to FBI agent Angel Carter and her partner and though the clues are scarce, Angel has an ace up her sleeve - FBI profiler Noah Graydon, a man she's never seen. A man that is but a voice in the dark over her phone.

Noah Graydon is a legend and a phantom. The last time he tangled with the serial killer dubbed the Penny Killer for the two pennies he leaves on the victim's eyelids, a young agent lost his life, the killer was presumed dead, and Noah removed himself into the shadows.

But now the Penny Killer is back and has targeted Angel. Noah will have no choice but to emerge from the shadows if he wants to catch the killer and keep Angel safe.

This was the best HI I've read so far. Though it's a Harlequin - short and romance-riven - it reads like a thriller thanks to the twisted murdered and the constant suspense.

Usually in HI the hero meets the heroine at the beginning of the book so the story always seems a little rushed, but Noah and Angels have known each other for eighteen months prior to the beginning of the book, and though they've never officially met, their quasi-relationship was already established, leaving the author a lot of space to develop other aspects of the plot.

When we meet Angel Carter for the first time, she's on a crime scene fresh from the theater, in high-heel boots, yet there is something about her that speaks of a no-nonsense character and determination. She's strong and resilient, stubborn as a mule, and doesn't scare that easily (except for her bat phobia). She had a quirky sense of humor that brought even more life to the fictitious character and made her more "approachable" for an FBI agent.

In that first scene, she suddenly had a sensation of being watched, and though she saw only shadows behind her, there was someone lurking in the darkness. Instead of the killer, it was Noah Graydon, the legendary and enigmatic FBI profiler who was rather enamored of the shadows obscuring his visage from view.
I loved Noah from the start. He was a loner, rather grumpy when the mood struck, quite content with living in semi-darkness, yet there was constantly something drawing him out in the open, toward the light. I expected his fixation with shadows would bother me, but it merely added to the intrigue of the story and the appeal of the man.

Though it was obvious Noah and Angel have never met, there was something between them. Though they communicated over the Internet and phone, the attraction was there, center stage, waiting to be called into the game. Their banter over the phone might seem friendly at first, but there were those sexual overtones (her teasing, his sexy drawl whenever he spoke to her) that spoke volumes of what was said between the lines. I found myself looking forward to those phone conversations.
And when they finally met. Oh, boy. The ST was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Though the romance between the leads occupied a good part of the story, it never overshadowed the main mystery of the serial killer on the Boston streets. The murders were piling up along with the suspects, the notes left behind by the psycho were getting more and more cryptic with each murder, and the clues left here and there by the author led to different direction, to different people, successfully maintaining the edge-of-the-seat suspense.
Until the very end and such a twist it left me reeling.

Jenna Ryan truly did an amazing job with this book. The characters were amazing and nicely developped, their banter entertaining, their (hi)stories a great discovery, and the romance sizzling. But what made this a good book was without a doubt the suspense sub-plot. Maybe not overly original, but nicely executed with the final reveal that was the true surprise of the story.
Nicely done, indeed, and highly recommended.


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