Friday, December 23, 2016

Review: Waking Evil by Kylie Brant

Title: Waking Evil
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101145250
ISBN-13: 9781101145258


Buffalo Springs, Tennessee, is a neighborly kind of place where folks leave their doors unlocked and crime is unheard of. But once every generation, a strange red mist settles over the town, and with it comes omens of death...

When the body of a young woman is found, forensic investigator Ramsey Clark is called in. She knows about the legend of the mist and about the curse that has the entire town afraid of the dark. But Ramsey believes in evidence, not superstition, despite what she's told by the parapsychologist who's been dogging her every step. Then another murder rocks Buffalo Springs, and Ramsey begins to wonder if a killer is playing on everyone's fears or if a prophecy is indeed being fulfilled—one victim at a time.

My rating:

A woman’s body is found floating in a pond in Buffalo Springs, Tennessee and Ramsey Clark, a member of the famous Mindhunters, a team captained by ex-FBI profiler Adam Raiker, is called in to investigate.

Soon, the legends and fables of the rural town take over the case, the murder coincided with the strange phenomena of "red mist" that appears in town every thirty years and claims its three victims. Investigating that is paranormal investigator (that doesn’t believe in paranormal per-se) Devlin Stryker, that poses yet another threat to Ramsey and her tough-chick shell.

But the red mist doesn’t care if the lead profiler is getting deeper and deeper in her quasi-romance with Devlin and soon, there’s another body to be found. Was it really a suicide or is there the stench of foul play?

Ramsey better find out quick, because the fanatical killer is already gunning for her.

Re-reads certainly grant a new perspective. Because while, on first read, this one received five stars and favorite status, this second time around, the rating got knocked off. Because while the suspense was great, quickly catching me in its clutches, the intensity quickly dropped since we only got a few brief glimpses in the villain’s mindset.

The characters, although slightly better developed than in the first book, a lot more layered and with a whole lot more of issues, were also slightly grating on my nerves. Especially the heroine with all her baggage from the past, that in the end proved to be just a teaser, while the hero remained pretty much a blank slate throughout the story. His affability bothered me, since it looked like there was nothing deeper underneath—I guess he just became so well versed in masking everything, nothing more came through.
The romance, although it looked more pronounced and more “in the foreground” than in the first book, came through as flat, since I wasn’t that invested in the two leads. It felt rushed, its progress didn’t seem that organic, and in the end I felt like they were nothing more than friends-with-benefits that actual lovers thinking of maybe building a future together.

I have no complaints about the writing style. Ms. Brant mixed suspense, thriller, blood, chills, romance, and pretty steamy scenes together perfectly, intertwining little details to make this quite a well-rounded story, even though, as said before, some elements stuck out at the edges.
The suspense, even though not that prominent, failing to deliver the requisite ominous feels was the best part of the story. There were plenty of twists and turns, false leads, and red-herrings to make your head spin, and although I’ve read it before, I’ve obviously forgotten who the real baddie was, because the reaction of “oh, my effing God what just happened?!” was back. I guess I fell for the false leads like I did the first time reading it.
Yes, the surprise reveal was a real kicker.
And, unlike the first book, the ending wasn’t abrupt. Ms. Grant took her time (after that initial big twist), and let things run their course without rushing anything.

Actually, there was an aspect of the style of this book that bothered me initially. The story is placed in Tennessee, where everybody (the heroine from Mississippi included) were fluent in y’all. Well, that y’all aspect of the writing was tiresome at first with apostrophes thrown in there almost willy-nilly, but once I got used to the "pattern" I completely forgot it was there.
So that’s not really an objection but merely an observation.

A good story, with a great mix of every single element I love in my novels (even a slight paranormal angle, but you'll have to read it to know what I mean), intriguing and surprising suspense, amazing portrayal of the small-town and its mentality without falling into the hillbilly trap, and a nicely twisted villain.

Pity the romance and h/H failed to impress (this second time around).


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