Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Fade to Black by Leslie Parrish

Title: Fade to Black
Series: Black CATs
Author: Leslie Parrish
Read copy: eBook
Published: July 7, 2009
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
ISBN: 110108054X
ISBN-13: 9781101080542

After transferring out of violent crimes and onto the FBI's Cyber Action Team, Special Agent Dean Taggert is shocked to encounter a case far more vicious than any he's ever seen. A cold and calculating predator dubbed "The Reaper" is auctioning off murder in the cyber world and is about to kill again—unless Dean and beautiful sheriff Stacey Rhodes can stop him.

My rating:

Special Agent Dean Taggert, member of a special Cyber Action Team (CAT) dealing in Internet-related murders, comes into the small town of Hope Valley, Virginia, pursuing a case that might have something to do with a missing person reported seventeen months ago.

Up until now, everybody in Hope Valley, Sheriff Stacey Rhodes included, though local girl Lisa Zimmerman had simply taken off with one of her druggie boyfriends. A video, found on a "specialized" website catering to the lowest of the low on the humane scale, appropriately called Satan's Playground proves them all wrong. Lisa had been murdered that night seventeen months ago...And she knew her killer.

Having literally escaped back home to Hope Valley from what she's seen and experienced during her stint in state police, Stacey Rhodes, can't believe blood and death have invaded her small, serene home town. And that the killer, with a deadly handle of The Reaper, still on the loose, slowly but inexorably letting go of his grasp on reality, could be someone she knows, someone she works with, someone she loves.

With the time between the murders escalating and the Reaper becoming more and more brazen with his Internet murder-auctions, Stacey, Dean and his CAT team race against the clock to uncover the Reaper's identity and save his next intended victim...

This is the first book in a suspense/thriller series (it appears a trilogy for now) by Leslie Parrish. Fade to Black started with a compelling and utterly chilling prologue, and the suspense didn't let up until the fast-paced, completely unexpected finale.

The plot was great, well-developped and well-written, the pacing great (thought it dragged its feet a little at the beginning, but that's to be expected with a first book in any series), the characters were nicely drawn and "fully-dimensional", the dynamic was great and the chills and thrills throughout the story compelled me to finish this one in one sitting.

Though some might find the multiple-character POV and procedural part of the story somewhat boring and uneventful, it helped develop the reader's understanding of the characters and what made each of them tick, brought the whole apprehending-the-killer procedure a little closer to the reader's understanding, along with nicely sketching the initial team dynamic, which, as the story progressed, developped into true team-work. Six completely different characters, literally forced to work together sight unseen, developped a new, strong team-bond throughout the story, promising even more excitement in the future.

I absolutely loved the cat-and-mouse game between the killer and his pursuers, the clues that seemed to bring them closer to the killer, yet contradicted themselves at the same time. The suspect list was an arm long, with new clues pointing in different directions and possibilities with each page, and I loved the utter surprise the Reaper's identity presented. Never saw that one coming.

The different twists and turns, smaller sub-plots, great characters, wonderful pacing, the chilling suspense, and that little touch of romance (though I wouldn't miss it if it weren't there) make Fade to Black a truly wonderful and compelling read. A great first installment in this series and I can't wait to read the rest.

P.S. Shawna, thanks a bunch for pointing me in the direction of this beauty. 😉


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