Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper

Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper
published by Bantam Books in December 2007

He's the kind of killer we instinctively fear the most. A killer without boundaries, without conscience, without any fear of being caught. And his latest victim is terrifying proof that no one is safe: the daughter of a powerful U.S. senator.

Now, with the national media calling for justice and a grief-stricken father seeking vengeance, Bishop and his FBI Special Crimes Unit find themselves in a unique situation. This time even psychic cops aren't enough to stop evil. Aid comes in the form of a fledgling civilian organization of unorthodox crime stoppers. Operating outside of any government oversight, without sanction or official authority, they are comprised of a membership every bit as talented and eccentric as Bishop's SCU — if not more so. And that is no coincidence. For Bishop helped launch this organization barely two years before.

Dani Justice knows all about monsters. They haunt her nightmares — and her life. But she never expected to find herself doggedly on the trail of a real flesh-and-blood predator so cunning, he's eluded the best law enforcement could send up against him; so deadly, he doesn't hesitate to kill even a senator's daughter. Or a cop.
Dani doesn't want to hunt this killer. She doesn't want to risk the life she's made for herself, or her hard-won peace. But she doesn't have a choice. Because his bloody rampage has hit far too close to home. Because Dani alone commands a weapon powerful enough to destroy him. And because Dani knows something even Bishop doesn't. Dani knows how the hunt ends. It ends in fire. And blood. And death.

What she doesn't know is who will survive.

Genre: thriller, psychics
Series: FBI SCU, book 9 - Blood trilogy (4th trilogy), book 1

The Story: Dani and Paris Justice are twins and psychics. Like many, they wanted to put their abilities to use and thus, have been recruited by Haven. Haven is like the FBI Special Crime Unit (SCU)’s little sister. The organization was Noah Bishop’s idea, because he knew that not all psychics have the mental strength to be a FBI Special Agent. It is led by John Garrett and Maggie Barnes (from Touching Evil) and its purpose is to support the FBI SCU, either psychically or by investigating cases that the FBI SCU cannot… just like this one.

Dani’s dreams are not simple dreams, but visions… and she has the ability to walk in them as well as bringing others with her. However, what she sees often have tragic or sad endings and this has caused Dani to run away from Ventura instead of committing to her long-time friend and lover, Marcus Purcell, now sheriff of Ventura. After years of running, Dani is back in Ventura. On the surface, she is back to support Paris who is going through a painful divorce…In reality, she is back because of a recurring vision – a rare occurrence which emphasizes its significance and importance.

A serial killer has been striking a city (sorry, can’t remember which one, Boston?); however, when his latest victim is a senator’s daughter, the case gets more media attention and becomes very high profile. As a result, all of FBI SCU’s high profile agents are assigned to the case. Although Bishop believes that the hunting ground of the killer has changed to Ventura, the new FBI director is not convinced of the FBI SCU’s reputation and instincts and does not want to risk his career and so insisted that Bishop and his agents remain in the city. Bishop has no other choice than to rely on Haven and Dani’s visions… the problem is that details in Dani’s vision keep changing as the investigation goes further… and Dani is not sure if they’ll be there in time and who’s going to make it.

My Opinion: If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Kay Hooper and especially, her FBI SCU series. The last book in the series, Sleeping with Fear, was interesting but not as enjoyable as the previous ones. So, I’ve really been looking forward to the start of this new trilogy, especially after reading that Ms Hooper was going for something a bit different. In the previous trilogies, the books were stand alone and all that connected them really was the theme/titles. In this new trilogy, each book has a case that is solved, but there is also a storyline taking place throughout the three books. Add in the fact that the release date of Blood Dreams was pushed from July to December and you had a reader in need of her FBI SCU fix with quite high expectations.

Okay, so what did I think of this book? I liked and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the best of the series. A warning, the case was extremely gory and chilling so you better read this book with all the lights on and preferably when it’s not storming outside :P A large part of the book consists of the characters investigating the case, coming up with theories, possibilities and profiles, which were all interesting, but as usual the tension builds in, they are time-pressured, etc. and the whole storyline pretty much culminates in the capture of the killer with little clues of his identity throughout the book. I personally don’t mind as I still enjoy the book, but I know it is an issue for some readers. Remember, the FBI SCU deals mostly with serial killers and are called in when there’s little to go on… so I guess it’s become the natural course. So you get fair warning J The book was also a nice balance between the introduction of Haven, the setting for the trilogy and the case itself. In short, there wasn’t a dull moment, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like it was too much (you know what I mean?).

What was unfortunate in Blood Drams however is that I didn’t get to know Dani and Marcus as well as I’d wish to. They are the main characters and do have their story; however, they clearly weren’t the focus. Perhaps it would have been better if there has been less characters; however, they all seemed necessary. Of course, I also have to keep in mind that Blood Dreams is not a romance novel; it’s more like a mystery or thriller and although part of a series, the main characters change from novel to novel. Therefore, it’s understandable that the characters aren’t as “fleshed” out as I’d wished.

Another thing I had difficulty to deal with is how Bishop is viewed in this book. Bishop and Miranda are the pillars of the FBI SCU and often have to take difficult decisions. The agents in the FBI SCU are very loyal to Bishop and although they often wonder, they never really questions Bishop’s authority and decision. It’s another story with Haven, some people do question Bishop’s authority. Why should he be the one pulling the strings… Is it really better to sacrifice one person and save a hundred? I love Bishop and so, it makes me feel uncomfortable that this is brought up… but I guess it only makes the book even more realistic… because it was bound to happen.

For those who wonder, recurring characters in this book include John Garrett, Noah Bishop and Hollis Templeton. There’s also mention of Miranda, Quentin and Maggie Barnes. I wonder when Hollis will have her own book… although I wasn’t a fan of hers at first, I’m starting to really like her and look forward to her own book.

So my verdict? I think it was a good addition to the series and a good start for the trilogy. I enjoyed it; however, I will hope for more in the next book. This is not a romance however, therefore, some of you might want to skip it.

Grade: B


  1. I have never read a Kay Hooper book, but from the way you rave about her, I think I should.

    Can you recommend one to me?

  2. Chantal - LOL, I just love her books :) In the series, i would recommend:

    Stealing the Shadows
    Out of the Shadows
    Touching Evil
    Hunting Fear

    I think those are the best in the whole series... Stealing the Shadows is the first book... however, they do stand alone quite well.