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Also in this series: Phantom Evil, The Hidden, Heart of Evil, Haunted Destiny, Darkest Journey, Dying Breath, Echoes of Evil, The Summoning, The Seekers, The Unholy, The Dead Heat of Summer, The Unforgiven, The Forbidden
Alaska—the final frontier?
When Clara Avery, an entertainer working on the Fate, an Alaskan cruise ship, goes to nearby Bear Island, she comes across a scene of bloody mayhem. She also comes across Thor Erikson, who will soon be a member of the FBI's elite paranormal unit, the Krewe of Hunters.
Thor's been sent from the Alaska field office to investigate several grotesque killings, with the dead posed to resemble the victims of notorious murderers. The prime suspect is a serial killer Thor once put behind bars. The man escaped from a prison in the Midwest, and all the evidence says he was headed to Alaska…
Thor and Clara share an unusual skill: the ability to communicate with the dead. Their growing love—and their contact with the ghosts of the victims—brings them together to solve the case…and prevent a deadly fate of their own!
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Deadly Fate, the newest Krewe of Hunters novel, hooked me early and never let up. From the opening scene of (fictional) carnage to the denouement, the book kept me guessing and eagerly turning the pages to see if my guesses were right.
Graham is really good at evoking an atmosphere, making a setting appealing and then progressively ratcheting up the tension so the setting itself begins to feel menacing. In this case, though, while Alaska itself is certainly appealing enough, the fictional Black Bear Island is a scene of death and destruction almost from the start, and it remains an ominous if beautiful setting for much of the book.
I was delighted to see Clara Avery get a leading role in Deadly Fate. I liked her in Haunted Destiny, and suspected we might see her again when it became clear she could see ghosts. Several other members of the Destiny’s entertainment contingent also appear; it was nice to see them again and it also offered at least a few trustworthy people for Clara to lean on. Thor is new to the series (to the best of my knowledge; I haven’t read them all), but he and Clara make a good pairing. I was less taken with some of the other characters, particularly Marc Kimball, the rather slimy billionaire who owns Black Bear Island, and some of the TV crew…but then, some of them aren’t intended to be sympathetic.
The book has something of a “locked room mystery” feel to it, because although people do come and go from the island, the initial deaths must have been caused by someone on the island, probably by someone we’ve been introduced to. One of my few quibbles about Heather Graham’s books is that they often make logical leaps or contain plot holes, but Deadly Fate has fewer of these than most of the other Graham books I’ve read. There were one or two plot twists and explanations that felt a bit forced, but they were reasonably logical.
I’ve talked before about my difficulty with reading about serial killers, but Deadly Fate steered clear of the things that seem to trigger my discomfort the most—I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in the killer’s head or analyzing his/her twisted psychology, and it wasn’t a situation where a close family member turns out to be a killer. (Incidentally, I have no idea why either of those things should trigger such anxiety and revulsion for me when I read about them; there’s nothing in my personal past that would account for it. It’s baffling.) Deadly Fate, despite the undeniable suspense and the rather gruesome deaths, kept things at enough of a distance that I could approach the mystery as a puzzle rather than be sucked into the terror of it all—which is how I prefer it, frankly.
All in all, I think Deadly Fate is one of the better-constructed Krewe of Hunters books, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m already excited for Darkest Journey, the next book in the series.