Since I don't have a Hauling Sunday post today, I'd continue catching up on the posts for 2010 that I've been wanting to do. So today, I'm wrapping up the Re-Read Challenge :) I'm concluding this challenge with a book from one of my favorite authors, Kay Hooper.
Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper
published by Bantam Books in September 2000
What if you can enter a madman's cruel mind as he plans his vicious crimes? What if you can see the terrified face of his prey as he moves in for the kill-but you can't stop his frenzy once he strikes?Genre: Romantic suspense, psychic
Psychic Cassie Neill helps the L.A. police catch killers-until she makes a terrible mistake and an innocent child dies. Cassie flees to a small North Carolina town, hoping that a quiet life will silence the voices that invade her unwilling mind. But Cassie's abilities know few boundaries. And she's become certain-as no one else can be-that a murderer is stalking Ryan's Bluff.
It's his fury that Cassie senses first, then his foul thoughts and perverse excitement. Yet she doesn't know who he is or where he will strike. The sheriff won't even listen to her-until the first body is found exactly where and how she predicted. Now a suspect herself, she races desperately to unmask the killer in the only way she knows: by entering his twisted mind. Her every step is loaded with fear and uncertainty...because if he senses her within him, he'll trap her there, so deep she'll never find her way out.
In Stealing Shadows, Kay Hooper introduces FBI agent Noah Bishop, whose rare gift for seeing what others do not helps him solve the most puzzling cases. Now, Bishop's adventures continue in two new electrifying tales of psychic suspense.
Beware of what you see. It's dawn when the police arrive at the murder scene. The victim is propped against a tree, her eyes still open, her head tilted, her lips parted in a silent cry. Just as Cassie Neill predicted. Just as she saw while she was inside the killer's mind. The killer knew she was there. And next time he won't let her get away.
Series: FBI SCU series, Book #1
The Story: Cassie Neill is a psychic with the uncanny ability of entering the minds of twisted monsters and seeing through their eyes. As a result, she has spent most of her life helping the police putting those monsters behind bars. However, her gift - or more accurately, her curse - only gives her an edge and is not a certainty. A wrong interpretation can lead to a tragic end; and when a little girl dies, Cassie knows she's reached her limits and can no longer continue. She retreats to Ryan's Bluff where she's inherited a house from her estranged aunt.
The last thing she expects in this small and peaceful town is to connect with the mind of a killer, but that's exactly what happens. With no big surprise, the sheriff refuses to believe her and Cassie cannot remain on the sideline. She decides to reach out for the judge, Ben Ryan, in the hope he can sway the sheriff.
As women are murdered, Ben and the sheriff quickly realize that Cassie might be their only way to stop the killer. However, Cassie is not certain she can go this once again... and Ben finds himself unwilling to let Cassie risks herself. Especially when the case is more complicated than they believed it was and connected to Cassie...
My Opinion: I discovered Ms Hooper FBI SCU series back in 2004 and simply fell in love with it. It was in-between two classes and I was at the bookstore, flipping through some books and I picked up Whisper of Evil. I started reading it and after a couple of chapters, I knew. I knew that I would love Ms Hooper and that these books were for me. So put back Whisper of Evil and set on a mission: go to every UBS in downtown Montreal to find Ms Hooper FBI SCU series books. After that, I came back to the bookstore and bought the ones that were missing :) Like I said, I just knew... and I was right :)
Stealing Shadows is the first book of the series I really enjoyed it, although it wasn't my favorite and I haven't re-read it in a couple of years... which is why I picked it up back in December. I was in a mini-slump and felt like reading a Kay Hooper and thought, why not Stealing Shadows? Sometimes, it's good a few years have passed, because you don't remember everything about the story and can go "Ohhh, right" and that's what happened :)
Overall, I really enjoyed re-reading Stealing Shadows. I pretty much like everything about it - the characters, the romance and the suspense. Cassie is very strong and independent. She might not be someone you get chummy with, but it's definitively someone you admire. It also seemed to me that she was finally living... For too long, she's focused on helping with her gifts and I can't imagine the pressure it was, the horrors she's seen... and thus, seeing her meeting Ben, falling and love and getting her HEA ending, it was great. As for Ben, he was really solid, exactly what Cassie needed. I liked that he was persistent in his pursuing of Cassie, that he did not give up and his protective side of Cassie. I have to say though, I would have liked to know Ben a little bit better, to have him a bit more fleshed out... However, I don't think it detracted too much from the book.
I would categorize Ms Hooper's Shadows trilogy as romantic suspense as opposed to her Fear and Blood trilogies being more mystery/thriller instead. That being said, the romance is on the light side. Still, I was satisfied with it. Cassie and Ben get to know each other, understand each other and build a relationship. Yes, the timeline was a bit fast, but the romance well written :) As for the suspense, I think that's what Ms Hooper does best. It was really suspenseful and complex. I think that the psychic element also allows Ms Hooper to flex the boundaries a little bit. At the same time though, it's not evident. What I mean is that because of the psychic element, not everything is explainable. For example, not everything is A --> B, sometimes, it's A --> C... and you perhaps have to suspend disbelief, so it probably doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me :) All in all, I think Ms Hooper did good balancing everything in this book :)
One of the thing I also like about this book is Noah Bishop's appearance. Noah Bishop is the pivotal character in the FBI SCU series, because he's the one who put together the SCU - Special Crime Unit. What I never caught on my first reading of Stealing Shadows though is that Cassie and Noah are cousins!! I only found that out later, on Ms Hooper's website, and after re-reading the book, I could pick up the clues. I thought that was really cool LOL.
Another thing that I really like about Stealing Shadows is that it might be the first book in this series, but it doesn't throw you in the SCU right away. Instead, it's like a preface book. It shows you a bit why Bishop wants to build the SCU, the motivation behind it and the usefulness of such an unit. I think it was a brilliant way to open the series really. Usually, in the first book, the unit would already be put together and running. You'd be introduced to all those characters and there'd be a lot of explaining about the unit, it's purpose, etc. This way, we get to experience it and I like that :)
Finally, the reason why I like the FBI SCU series and why it stands out the most for me is the way Ms Hooper has incorporated the psychic element into the suspense/mystery. The approach she's taken to explain psychic abilities is scientific and her characters are no-nonsense about it. Also, most importantly is that the characters have come to terms with their abilities and have learned to live with them... and her characters are stronger for it :) Some of them do have a vulnerable side to them, but it's not the fragility that you usually associate with psychics. Put it all together and that is why it matches with the suspense so well. Instead of the psychic abilities being mystic and something elusive, it's scientific, cold and solid and suits the FBI :)
My Grade: B. What's really hard with re-reads of romantic suspense and mystery/thriller books is that knowing who's done it takes out of the intensity... and Stealing Shadows is not an exception. However, I still truly really love this book :) Perhaps it's more sentimental than logical, but isn't that the way with books? :)