Published by Harlequin MIRA on May 25, 2021
Genres: Paranormal romantic suspense
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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Also in this series: Phantom Evil, The Hidden, Heart of Evil, Haunted Destiny, Deadly Fate, Darkest Journey, Dying Breath, Echoes of Evil, The Summoning, The Seekers, The Unholy, The Dead Heat of Summer, The Forbidden
A tragic past. An uncertain future
Twelve years after the grisly murder of her parents, Kaitlyn Delaney has finally found peace. She has friends, a good job, a place to call home and a new life to live. But then a shadow creeps in from Katie’s past, reminding her that she will never completely escape its terrifying grip.
When private investigator Dan Oliver is called to the scene of a gruesome crime in New Orleans, he can’t help but hear echoes of the Delaney case, the unsolved murder that made him leave law enforcement. As he digs deeper, he unearths more chilling similarities—including mysterious letters connecting the killer to a string of murders that terrorized the Big Easy in 1919.
Now reunited after all this time, Dan and Katie scour the streets together, desperate to find answers before more lives are lost. But the otherworldly roots of this evil run far deeper than they ever imagined…and only the most precious of sacrifices will bring its twisted reign to an end.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Not my favorite Krewe book, but still fun
If you like this series—and I do—you’ll probably like The Unforgiven, but that’s about the best I can say for it. I didn’t find it particularly memorable or gripping. It’s not that there’s anything significantly wrong with it, and it is still fun, but it feels formulaic and a little flat in comparison to some of Graham’s other Krewe books.
The mystery starts with a well-written prequel: the grisly multiple murder of Kaitlyn’s parents in the Florida Keys. Twelve years later, an elderly couple and their housekeeper are murdered in a similar fashion, a thousand miles away in New Orleans, where Katie now lives. Not only is the current case similar to the death of Katie’s parents, it also resembles a case six years earlier in Orlando, and a spree of attacks a hundred years earlier—attacks which were never solved. Soon the whole city is awash with rumors that the notorious Axeman has somehow returned. From there, the plot goes in a direction I admit I didn’t see coming (although I did figure out several things along the way.) Without giving anything away, I found the overall solution a bit far-fetched, although to be honest, that’s often part of the fun of this series.
Katie and Dan are likeable, believable characters individually, particularly Katie, but I didn’t really feel much spark between them. I also didn’t really buy Daniel’s turnaround re one of the suspects. (Neither did Katie, so I was in good company there!) Other aspects of the book didn’t quite ring true, either—and I don’t mean the ghosts! When you have two witnesses to multiple murder claiming there were other parties present at the time of the murders, and one of the witnesses can describe them as clearly as Katie can, it’s hard to believe the official law-enforcement response would be to assume one witness is lying and the other is confused. Granted, this was a necessary backstory device to make part of the plot work, but I just couldn’t believe in it.
On the plus side, it was nice to see a little of Krewe founder Adam Harrison. Krewe agent Axel Tiger (Deadly Touch) plays an active role, and there’s a cameo from fellow agent Andre Broussard (The Stalking). And I enjoyed the collegial relationships between the various law-enforcement figures and the overall police concern for the safety of New Orleans’ citizens, especially in light of so many recent real-world examples of the opposite.* It’s an ideal I devoutly wish was more of a reality.
As usual, the author offers plenty of present-day description and historical information on New Orleans. While much of it is interesting and helpful in immersing the reader in the setting, and it’s justified by the fact that Katie works as a carriage tour guide, the sheer amount of it begins to feel like unecessary info-dumping.
If you’re new to this series, there are other books in the series with stronger plots, more suspense, a greater sense of creepiness or menace, and more compelling romantic relationships; I’d advise you to seek them out instead of starting here. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll find probably find it fun, but a bit lackluster in comparison to those better installments.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Seasons 2021: Spring