Wow, now this is why I read romantic suspense.
Leslie Tentler has woven an intense story in which she brings together two almost broken, but not quite defeated, characters.
Mia Hale is a crime reporter with a local newspaper. Both fierce and fragile, Mia grew up being tossed between the foster care system and her unstable mother. She is a survivor and has risen above her circumstances by creating a solid life for herself. However, that is all about to change. When she doesn’t arrive at work one morning, her editor reports her missing. She is found hiding on the beach by two police officers after they discover an abandoned stolen vehicle nearby – Mia is alive but badly battered and bloody.
On closer medical examination it is discovered that she has no memory of how she got there, why she was abducted or who the perpetrator was, due to a potent mixture of drugs found in her blood system.
FBI Special Agent Eric Macfarlane, based in Washington with the FBI’s Violent Crimes Unit is drawn into the case when a close friend of his calls him in to assist in the investigation. On reading a copy of the detailed incident report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, the similarities to another case close to his heart chill his blood - the wounds inflicted on the victim are not the work of an ordinary killer. With this playing on his mind, Eric immediately heads to Jacksonville in pursuit of a suspected killer whose modus operandi bears the same horrendous resemblance to “The Collector”, a sadistic serial killer who appears to have resumed his grim hobby of abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies.
The question is - why is Mia still alive? None of “The Collector’s” victims has ever managed to escape.
Both Eric and Mia are drawn into the investigation, with Mia risking everything to regain her memory. As the body count continues to rise Eric, who has been in self-imposed exile for the last 3 years, is torn between his feelings of guilt for the past, which is beyond his control, and his deepening feelings for Mia.
With absolutely no clues or DNA left at any of the crime scenes, the FBI is at a loose end, but a cleverly constructed press conference sends the killer into a frenzy – exactly the reaction the FBI was hoping for.
A psychological pathology begins to emerge when the killer is identified. Quite obviously having a dysfunctional relationship with women, Eric has an aggressively narcissistic psychopath on his hands who revels in the false sense of power he has over his victims.
What follows is a riveting, nail-biting build-up to a climax fraught with danger and fresh fear. The perverse pleasure "The Collector" gains whilst putting his final two victims through hellish torture is graphic.
I seem to have been on a bit of a serial killer “spree” with the books that I have chosen lately but let me just say that I found this novel emotionally gripping with both characters pulling at my heartstrings - Eric so much that I just wanted to crawl into his arms and never leave.
Leslie Tentler has a really smooth prose style and has found a perfect balance between suspense, danger and romance. I am also in absolute awe of any author who is able to give such depth of emotion to their characters - Leslie is one of those and I am so pleased to have discovered her.
This is her third book in the Chasing Evil Trilogy. Her first, Midnight Caller, was released in February 2011 and the second, Midnight Fear, close on its heels in August 2011.
I highly recommend this read which has been written by a refreshing new author to the romantic suspense scene.