For those who are new to my blog, Kay Hooper is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her a few years ago, when I was still studying and went all around town to get my hands on all of her FBI SCU aka Bishop series books... they are simply just so good :D
Hunting Fear by Kay Hooper
published by Bantam Books in August 2004 (HC)
He's no ordinary kidnapper. Not only does he strike again and again, but he collects the ransom, gets away safely, and leaves his helpless hostages dead. Now, after months of eluding the best that law enforcement can put against him, this monster has left nothing in his wake but a cold trail of unconnected victims.
He's no ordinary cop. Lucas Jordan, a key agent and profiler in Noah Bishop's Special Crimes Unit, has an extraordinary skill: he locates missing people. But his uncanny ability comes with a price, and his methods rouse mistrust in the hard-nosed cops forced to call him into their investigations.
Now Jordan has come to Clayton County, North Carolina, where the latest in a string of kidnapping victims has turned up dead. Complicating the situation is the presence — and predictions — of someone who's even more of an outsider than Jordan himself: carnival psychic Samantha Burke, a woman out of his own haunted past. Her warnings meet with skepticism from the local police but spur Jordan on to do what he does best: hunt fear.
But the killer he is hunting is hunting Jordan — and he's already several moves ahead in a twisted game whose rules Jordan must learn in order to have a fighting chance. For his psychopathic opponent has extended a very personal challenge — and he's about to threaten the one life the profiler values even more than his own...
Series: FBI SCU, book #7
The Story: Lucas Jordan and his partner, Jaylene Avery, are called into Golden to investigate a kidnapping. Lucas and Jaylene believe that this is the latest kidnapping in a series that have started 18 months ago, from the East-side of the country to here. In every case, a ransom is demanded, paid and the victim, killed. In every case, the FBI showed up too late - either the victim was already killed or had very little time to live. Lucas and Jaylene do not think this case will be any different and think that all they can do is try to find a clue, something... till Samantha Burke.
Samantha Burke makes a living as a carnival mystic; however, she is indeed a psychic - a seer. Three years ago, she tried to help Lucas in a case and both the case and her relationship with Lucas ended up... badly. Now she is in Golden, telling Lucas the the kidnapper he is hunting is actually playing a game with Lucas. Having observed Lucas and knowing that he finds the victims by sensing their fears, the kidnapper has put in place a chilling and gory game... and Golden is the end point... and Samantha believes that Lucas cannot win without her.
My Opinion: This is one of Ms Hooper's best book in the series. Best book. I simply love it and am so glad I chose to re-read it. The plot is thrilling, intriguing and well-written. The cases are actually a bit gory, but it just adds to the book, especially when the theme is fear. Although I knew the story, I still found myself at the edge of my seat and turning the pages as fast as I could. What's great about Hunting Fear is that the storyline spans over a week or two. Yes, there is a sense of urgency, but the story is not rushed and compressed into 2 or 3 days, making any development in relationship unbelievable... and again, the plot is just flawless in my opinion and there are a couple of twists that I did not expect :)
Character-wise, I think Ms Hooper had winners with Samantha and Luke's characters. I love them and love their relationship. Ms Hooper also did a great job incorporating and developing their relationship. Samantha is a strong woman, a survivor. No matter what life handed down to her, she accepts and overcomes the obstacles and comes out of it stronger. As for Luke, he's strong as well... but closed down. Keeps to himself and I think that's why he got scared of Samantha the first time around. She got too close and he wasn't ready. However, the two of them together have so much chemistry... I love their banter and how Sam kept needling him. Being with Samantha makes him a better man and a complete one. By the way, I would have liked to know about his past...
We also get to see some other characters from the series that we've come to love, although know very little about: Bishop, Tony, Quentin and Galen. What I like is the fact that they provide insight for the readers, without over-stepping. And as always, I love her explanations of psychic and electromagnetic signatures and so on. Seriously, after reading these books, I do believe that psychics exist. She does write them very well - and I liked that a lot of her characters have adapted to their abilities and made a life for themselves.
Anyway, I personally believe this is Ms Hooper at her best. A solid relationship as well as interesting characters with a scary and thrilling plot. Although I'm a big fan of the series, I have to say that her latest books haven't been as good :( The balance hasn't been there between plot and characters/relationships... Also, Ms Hooper has to be careful not to take the easy way out. In a lot of instances, I find that the cases are suddenly resolved with a psychic phenomenum. I mean, she makes a lot of effort into writing her agents and the investigations and the cases... and then, the end seems to be resolved a bit too easily... almost rushed, as if she doesn't have enough pages to write. However, I'm still hopeful :)
Hunting Fear is definitively a classic of the series... and I wish Ms Hooper would write more like this one :) Also, I was re-reading Out of the Shadows this week-end... I want a book for Bonnie and Seth!!
My Grade: A. What can I say? I still love it, same as when I read it for the first time. This one is just compelling and I'm so glad I re-read it :)