Author: Heather Graham
Series: Krewe of Hunters, Book 2
Release Date: June 28, 2011
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*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley
For more information please visit Heather Graham's website.
Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery’s most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War. Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare – often inexplicable – intuition. Among them is Jake Mallory, a gifted New Orleans musician with talent that stretches beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own. The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried – even in death.
Heart of Evil is the second novel in the Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham. As far as follow up novels, however, this definitely didn't live up to it's predecessor, but still it proved to be a good stand alone read that had a great mystery and an somewhat intriguing romance. Wonderfully written and with some nice twists and turns this is another nice addition to Graham's thriving repertoire.
Like the first novel, Graham's world building is spot on. She does a masterful job of creating atmosphere, though I was really disappointed not to find the same haunting darkness achieved in the first novel. However, the homey, humid South portrayed takes you smack to the middle of the bayou and the winding banks of the Mississippi. The rolling plantation and it's surrounding wildlife are perfectly painted for the reader creating the perfect setting for a historical and puzzling murder mystery.
The characters on the other hand were a little less developed for me. I felt like it took a lot of time to really get to know these characters, though the connection between them is far more easily picked up. It seemed strange that that aspect came before even getting to know these two, especially considering one was present in book one, but there you are. I also really didn't much care for Ashley. She was fairly unremarkable and something of a stubborn antagonist determined not to still like Jake even though his only downfall was telling her that he had seen her father's ghost. That seems like a fairly stupid reason to kick out the love of your life, however, I could understand a little bit of anger at the way he had told her. Jake though, I liked. He seems like a fun guy to be around, but seems like a strange male lead. While I enjoyed him, I just felt that he wasn't dominant enough to carry the weight of the story which leads me to my next point. There was far less of a group dynamic to this novel, however, all are once again present. I really found myself missing the group as a whole as more time is spent with Jake and his memories of the Donegal plantation and his desire of Ashley and Ashley with her constant denial about everything. The ghostly aspect also held some interesting characters and I found myself immersed in their story, their history and their sad existence. They are more tragic then most ghosts determined to spend their after lives helping their family and watching which was pretty endearing in and of itself.
The writing was once again excellent, though at the beginning I found the story to be a bit dry with all of the Civil War storytelling and historical aspects. I get that it had a lot to do with the story as a whole, but it came off as a bit dry and really set me off. Honestly, I didn't get in to the story until about the hundredth page where the murder mystery really kicks in. I think that having this happen sooner would have done a lot for the novel, as well as placing all of the historical information more subtly throughout instead of one mass clump. The mystery itself was well throughout and had some great twists and turns and even quite surprised me with the true identity of the killer, however, this too seemed a little at odds with the story more like it was thrown in there at random as, while this may seems moderately spoilery it really isn't, the character is rarely shown throughout or even talked to for any length of time. I know most of the 'suspects' aren't, but it seemed odd to me. It didn't detract from the novel though, or at least not for me, and in the end this turned out to be a pretty good read. I do however hope that the third installment will have a more supernatural twist with creepy ghosts instead of helpful ones. I like the dark, horror-like appeal that this series started with and would like to get back to that.
In the end, this was a good read with a great mystery and some good romance. Fans of Graham will definitely love it, as will fans of mystery and paranormal romance. But, be warned, it does start slow, but hang in there! The end result was worth it.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars