Series: Krewe of Hunters #1
Published by Harlequin MIRA on March 29, 2011
Genres: Paranormal romantic suspense
Also in this series: The Hidden, Heart of Evil, Haunted Destiny, Deadly Fate, Darkest Journey
Also by this author: The Hidden, Flawless, Heart of Evil, Haunted Destiny, Deadly Fate, Darkest Journey, A Perfect Obsession
A secret government unit, a group of renegade paranormal investigators... and a murder no one else can crack.
Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.
A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and bloodshed.
But one assignment calls to them too strongly to resist. In a historic mansion in New Orleans's French Quarter, a senator's wife falls to her death. Most think she jumped; some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits inhabiting the house — once the site of a serial killer's grisly work.
In this seemingly unsolvable case, only one thing is certain: whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion will cast Jackson and Angela into danger of losing their lives... and their immortal souls.
This is a weird review, because I’m going to tell you all the things I didn’t like about a book I did like.
So here’s the thing: Phantom Evil is a fun read. It’s a roller coaster ride, or a carnival fun house where every time you turn around your perspective has changed: what you see has been distorted in a new and different way. It’s hard to tell what’s real, who is trustworthy, who is lying.
Except within the Krewe. This is the first book in the Krewe of Hunters series, and it introduces the first six members of the team. They’re all good people – a basic assumption within the series is that anyone in the Krewe is “good people” – and they all have different skills and paranormal talents, although in the case of several of them, we don’t really see the latter in use.
Here’s where my objections start. While the book spends a little time on the recruitment of hero Jackson Crow to head the team, there’s no real explanation of how the group’s founder chose and contacted the other members, nor of how this team fits into the FBI, especially given that it is privately funded. I was expecting an origins story; what I got was more like “swallow this wildly unrealistic premise without explanation; now go have fun.”
As I mentioned above, the team members come from different backgrounds and have different skill sets. Only two of them have police training (Jackson and Angela), yet several others find themselves doing short-term undercover work. Jake is a musician with a talent for finding the missing, dead or alive. Whitney’s film cameras capture things that aren’t there. Will is an illusionist. Jenna is an Irish nurse with a hint of the Sight. Angela can see ghosts; Jackson is skeptical even of what his own senses tell him. There should be friction as they try to integrate as a team, but aside from some initial wariness and disagreement between Jackson and Angela, there isn’t – and that’s just not believable. Several times we’re told this is because Jackson is so good at building a team. He’s certainly decisive in heading the investigation and telling people what to do, and he is polite and friendly with his team, but I never saw him demonstrating any real teambuilding skills.
The main focus is on Jackson and Angela, the POV characters. Jackson is for the most part a good investigator; a skeptic, he questions everyone and everything. Angela is much more open, both to seeing ghosts and to believing in what she sees, but as an investigator she’s equally good at not mistaking surface appearances for reality. The relationship between them takes a backseat to the mystery, but I didn’t have a hard time believing in it. There’s one scene in a nightclub, however, that really put my back up; if Jackson had insinuated about me what he does about Angela in that scene, I wouldn’t have been furious. Granted, it was intended as cover, but it wasn’t funny. While Jackson is at least as important a character as Angela, if not more so, I felt more connected to Angela.
I would’ve liked to learn more about each of the other four team members: how they were recruited, why they agreed, who they are as people. Because I didn’t really know them, I never quite felt like the team had gelled, so speak. I also thought the origin of the term “Krewe of Hunters” was a little weak.
As for the plot, it’s certainly convoluted! Each time you learn something new, the kaleidoscope shifts; every time you think you know what’s going on, something comes along to change that assumption. It definitely kept me turning the pages.
But there are also a number of minor plot holes and leaps of logic that kept throwing me out of the story. In several places, Jackson made drew conclusions or made assumptions which didn’t seem to have a basis in anything the author had told or shown us so far. That irritated me. If it were a film or a TV show, I would have assumed explanatory lines or scenes had been cut each time it occurred. It’s sloppy editing, and somebody should have caught the inconsistencies.
Despite the significant flaws, did I like the book? Heck, yes! Will I read more in the series? Absolutely. Quibbles aside, there’s something oddly addictive about the mix of criminal investigation and the paranormal. Plus, I already know from reading The Hidden that the series just gets better.
I can’t wait.
CHALLENGES: COYER Scavenger Hunt #21: A book featuring a male protagonist.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
- COYER Scavenger Hunt - Summer 2015