Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Haven by Kay Hooper

LOL, so my plan to keep having posts for the blog is not going so well as I'm getting distracted by TV. I'm most probably going to blog on that later this week :) However, I'm not giving up! So here's my review for Haven by Kay Hooper! Enjoy :)

Haven by Kay Hooper
published by Berkley in July 2012
Emma Rayburn lived a quiet life in the sleepy town of Baron Hollow, North Carolina, until she injured her head in a riding accident. Afterwards, her dreams were full of nameless girls being tortured and murdered, nightmares that didn't seem to have any link with her life...until her estranged sister, Jessie, returned to Baron Hollow. Now an investigator who uses her psychic abilities in her work, Jessie has long been plagued by something that happened to her as a teen girl, before she ran away from Baron Hollow. She's come back to uncover the truth - and to discover the ones responsible for the deed. Could Emma's nightmares be connected to Jessie's quest? But it isn't just the truth at stake - there's an evil that's haunting the present, an evil that has roots in the darkness of the past, and a terrifying violence that neither sister can remember...
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: FBI SCU, Book #13

The Story: Jessie Rayburn left Baron Hollow at the age of 17 and never looked back. No, she didn't leave - she ran away and as fast as she could... but she doesn't remember why. She spent years drifting until she became part of Haven and found a purpose. Haven is the civilian version of the FBI Special Crime Unit (SCU), backed up by the billionaire John Garrett. It consists of private investigators who are also psychics and has more freedom than the FBI. Being a telepath and a weak medium, Jessie fit right in. Unfortunately for her, something is preventing her from using her abilities to their full potential and everyone believes it is linked to her past, the reason she ran away. Not feeling ready, but wanting to move on, Jessie decides to go back to Baron Hollow to face her past.

What is waiting for Jessie in Baron Hollow is her younger sister, Emma... and ghosts. When Jessie's boss learns of the ghosts, she decides to send someone to assist Jessie: enters Nathan Navarro, a fellow investigator in Haven. His unique ability allows him to find dead bodies... and it doesn't take long for him to find one and he's pretty sure there is more. Both Jessie and Nathan can feel a dark presence in Baron Hollow, evil.

Emma is not sure why Jessie came back home. She would like to reconnect with her sister, but Jessie keeps brushing her off, going on expeditions and being distracted and preoccupied. Then, Nathan shows up at her B&B, someone she never expected to see again. Finally, the body is found... and strangely, the woman seemed to have died the same way Emma dreamed and probably at the same time. Ever since she had a riding accident, Emma has been dreaming of women being tortured and dying... What if they weren't dreams?

My Opinion: All right, before you continue on, keep in mind that I'm a huge fan of Ms Hooper, kay? :) Right off the bat, I'm going to tell you that Haven is not the best book in the FBI SCU series. However, I did like it and more importantly, it brings me hope. It brings me hope because it tells me Ms Hooper is back and on the right track :)

So, what I liked about Haven is that we finally find out more about the organization itself. Haven's been mentioned quite a lot in the last couple of books, but it remained kind of elusive. Now, we have clarifications. It's quite interesting how Haven is kind of an extension of the FBI SCU and vice versa. It's also clever because there's a lot less red tape. At the same time, I have to wonder about the risks that some of the PI might run into. Hopefully, most of them are less stubborn than Jessie and accept help and also, gotta trust Maggie and John.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and the plot; however, the book was a bit of a frustrating read. A lot of it had to do with Jessie. I didn't like her attitude or how she handled things. It feels some things could have been simplified if only she had taken two seconds to talk to Nathan and Emma. At the same time, it was very in character with her, so I guess ultimately, it works. The past that she was trying to uncover was interesting and there was a nice twist with it which I did not see coming. The serial killer case was not bad, but I wished there had been more physical clues for Nathan and Emma to follow instead of abstract feelings, intuition and clues. I guess what I'm saying is I'd have like a more procedural approach to the case. Although as usual, I feel Ms Hopper handled the psychic aspect of the book really well. Ultimately though, I think the case could have been more interesting and tighter.

I also liked Nathan and Emma's characters. Quite frankly, when I got into the book, it was a bit hard to figure out who was the heroine, Emma or Jessie? They both play big roles in the story. At the end of the day, Emma edged out Jessie - yay! Of the two, I thought Emma was just more likable and more willing also. She was the one who tried to reconnect, she was the one who was more open... I really liked Nathan's character and I'm really hoping that we'll see him in future books. Still, there's a part in me that's a bit dissatisfied. I think for this book to have been better, there need to be more development to both Emma and Nathan. Flesh them out more and have their relationship more established. I liked that the two of them had a connection prior to Haven, but I would have liked it to be explored. Perhaps Ms Hooper has plans for it in the next book. I know Ms Hooper usually writes the FBI SCU series in trilogy and while it usually features new characters, this might be an exception. Anyway, at the end of Haven, I wished I knew Nathan and Emma better. Oh and don't go into Haven thinking this is a romantic suspense book. It is not. Unfortunately, Ms Hooper has made the switch from RS to mystery/thriller a couple of years ago and it looks as if it's going to stay that way... to my eternal regret.

As usual, seeing Hollis was a pleasure :) I like how she's starting to be a really important secondary character. I'm curious to see how her relationship with Reese develops. I'm also curious to see how her abilities have evolved. Another familiar face is Noah Bishop! A FBI SCU book wouldn't be one without him making an appearance. Overall though, I think Ms Hooper kept the familiar faces to a minimum and that's good. Other familiar elements include the bad guy being a serial killer, the psychic abilities helping the case along and all the red herrings. Oh and of course, the cryptiness and goriness of the mystery. When I read Haven, there was definitively a familiar feeling... it was like meeting and talking to a friend you haven't seen in a while :) If you've read the last two trilogies of the FBI SCU series and didn't enjoy the books, you should definitively skip this one. I also

My Grade: I admit not being totally objective with Haven. Had this book been written by any other authors, based on the mystery and the plot, the grade would probably have been lower ^_^; However, what can I say? I'm just so happy there's finally a new book in the FBI SCU series, one of my all-time favorite series, and also to reunite with the familiar writing of Ms Hooper :) Like I said, Haven is not Ms Hooper's strongest book, but she's getting there. B-.