March 14, 2011

Review: Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

Phantom Evil
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: MIRA Books
Series: Krewe of Hunters, Book 1
ISBN: 9780778329534
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Heather Graham's website.

Alive or dead, everyone is looking for something…

A secret government unit is formed under the oversight of Adam Harrison, famed paranormal investigator. The six members he’s gathered know a little of the otherworldly—each has honed a psychic talent of their own.

Jackson Crow, part English, part Cheyenne, heads the group. Haunted by his experience with an ancestral ghost who saved his life as a child, and the recent murders of two previous teammates, Jackson can’t tell if Adam’s demoted him or given him an extraordinary opportunity. Despite his link to the realm of spirits, he’s well aware that the living commit the most heinous crimes, with spiritualist charlatans existing merely to fool and seduce the unwary.

To counterbalance Jackson’s careful skepticism, Adam Harrison has paired him with Angela Hawkins, a young woman who learned the painful lesson of loss at an early age. A police offi cer utilizing her paranormal intuition in Virginia, she already has her hands full. But Adam’s call to New Orleans is strong.

The case: In a historic mansion in New Orleans’s French Quarter, a senator’s wife falls to her death from a balcony. Most think she jumped, distraught over the loss of her young son. Some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits that inhabit the house—once the site of a serial killer’s grisly work.

Whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion, greed and desire will cast the pair into danger of losing their lives...and their immortal souls.

Phantom Evil is the first novel in the new Krewe of Hunters series by best selling author Heather Graham. Thrilling, suspenseful and at times just plain creepy, this novel had an amazing atmosphere with great world building and historical development that really brought it to life. With an interesting blend of the paranormal and the tangible evil that man is capable of, this is an engaging tale of horror and mystery with just the right amount of the romance for which Graham is famous for and that fans will love!

The story begins with a bang, instantly propelling us into the opulence of the infamous Newton house, a home to one of New Orleans' most nefarious mass murderers. At once, the eerie feeling the radiates from the historical residence is tangible with a colorful haunted history that Graham wove effortlessly, creating a chilling backdrop for this novel.  Truly, the amount of descriptive detail vividly creates an amazing world that is substantial in building a New Orleans that seems to spring to life within the pages. This admirably developed atmosphere had me jumping at every creak of my own house as I read late into the night, eager to discover the secrets of not only the Newton house, but of it's otherworldly inhabitants.

The marvelous, horrific atmosphere paired with the suspense surrounding the teams' investigation into the supposed suicide a Louisiana Senator's wife begs the question, 'can evil extend beyond the grave?' With each uncovered atrocity perpetrated by an evil, vile man a century before the answer seems to be an unequivocal yes. However, as alibis and motives of those closest to the deceased are uncovered it becomes obvious that the ghosts the reside within the walls of the Newton house aren't the only suspects in this baffling and cold blooded murder. This gripping mystery has more then a few twists and it's impossible to tell who or what may be responsible for the heinous act as Graham weaves an interesting tapestry that is at times complex and deliciously shocking.

The characters themselves are also quite interesting as the eclectic ensemble comes together, each with a unique skill and personality. There is an instant warmth and camaraderie between them that endears them to the reader, their easy relationship seemingly effortless and immediate. The easy acceptance by the group that there is more out there then meets the eyes is refreshing, but the dash of skepticism presented by team leader Jackson Crow keeps the story firmly grounded with a more relatable mindset that begs for tangible proof instead of blind belief. Angela Hawkins, his second in command, is quite a contrast as she is easily able to communicate with the lingering spirits residing within the house. Looking to them for guidance and answers surrounding the murder, her innate perceptive ability helps crack the seemingly stubborn facade of Jackson as she not only penetrates the walls of his beliefs, but those surrounding his heart as well. And though each carries a lot of pain and loss within themselves, or perhaps because of it, they come to bridge the chasm within themselves by giving in to the strong chemistry between them and falling into an organic and engaging relationship. The romance that ensues is refreshingly free of the complexities that often plague such characters within the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres with no possessiveness and no angst, simply a touching bond filled with easily accepted equality and warmth.

So, while the technical aspects that created this world are quite good, there were still a few things that nagged at me. The most predominant being the dialogue as at times it seemed rather cheesy given the maturity of the characters. There is also a lot of repetition that I felt was unnecessary with flashes of memory, tidbits of history and just general thoughts and responses being excessively repeated. All of these aspects tended to slow down the pace of an otherwise interesting and engaging plot. While it's not enough to detract from the inherent merit of the novel, these elements could still be irksome at times unless you easily forget components within an intricate storyline.

Overall, this was a good read that managed to shock and surprise me, and at times even gave me the willies! With an interesting cast of characters that possess such a great chemistry and seemingly familial bond, I definitely look forward to seeing what other mysteries they'll be called in to solve and see how their relationships evolve within the ensemble.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content


Evie said...

Sounds interesting, will check it out.
Gotta love netGalley :)

Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews said...

Great review and I love Heather's books!

I can't wait to read this one!

Bea said...

I was looking at this and debating picking it up (a store near me already has it,I thought it was already released).

I think I'll give it a try.