Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Review: Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

Title: Phantom Evil
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: 03/29/2011

I'll admit that Graham's work has kind of suffered over the last few years, with some of her books not even holding a candle to how wonderful the earlier books were. (I don't know of many people who liked Dust to Dust, a title that has sat around on my bookstore shelves gathering well, dust.) She's released some stuff that's been pretty decent, but again- not stuff that's along the quality lines of her earlier releases. I almost passed this book up until I realized that it was an Adam Harrison book. Even though he's almost always a non-major character in the books, the ones that feature him are almost always great reads. This one generally followed that rule.

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 officer 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.

I was sucked into this book incredibly quickly & I feel that most readers will be as well. I was also quite taken with both the official pairing in this book as well as the potential pairings for future books as well. (I doubt this book will be the last we've seen of this team.) The plot moves along very quickly & I was glad to see that the couple in this book doesn't play a huge amount of love games.

The only downfall to this book is that while the premise is wonderful & the interaction between our two leads has tons of chemistry, the "whodunnit" of the book just seemed a little well, farfetched & overly complicated. There's several different things going on at once & the ending just seemed a little rushed, as if Graham had intended for something more & just ran out of room. I couldn't help but feel like it was just a teensy bit anti-climactic.

Overall though, this was an incredibly fun read & it's very much a turn in the right direction for Graham. It's not a complete return to her earlier greatness but it's in the same vein- enough so that longtime fans will enjoy this book & new readers will find themselves wanting to read more of her work.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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