Dear Author

REVIEW: Black at Heart by Leslie Parrish

Dear Ms. Parrish,

Finally book three of the Black Cats series about a special FBI section which deals with crimes committed over the Internet. I wasn’t too sure how it would work for me since the person I assumed would be the heroine hadn’t impressed me much as a secondary character in “Fade to Black” or “Pitch Black.” Now having read it, I can say that though she improved somewhat there were other elements of the story which didn’t work for me.

Wyatt Blackstone is furious when an FBI stakeout goes horribly wrong. Two agents were killed and the suspect not apprehended but what makes it worse for Blackstone is that one of the agents is his and should never have been there in the first place. Lily Fletcher was no field agent. Her specialty was IT work for his own team but she’d been lured into working on another case on her own time by the chance to put a pedophile behind bars. And now she’s dead. Or….is she?

When Blackstone gets a phone call on the night of Lily’s funeral, he almost doesn’t believe the voice he hears. A quick decision later and another team member is with him hunting for a woman thought dead. Lily almost is dead after a week with a madman who takes his rage out on her and it takes her two months before she can leave the hospital. When she does, she starts a months long stay at a remote home owned by Blackstone where she strengthens her body and mind.

But after seven months, the killer is frantic to determine if Lily managed to survive her escape and begins a series of murders carefully crafted to implicate her. When that doesn’t work, a respected lawyer is hired to review the court trial of the man convicted of killing Lily’s nephew. When he’s released, Lily knows she must reappear in order to testify at a new trial – if there is one. Can she survive two people looking to silence her?

I was happy that Lily doesn’t act like a frightened rabbit anymore. She’s been through a life altering experience and it shows. She’s tougher mentally and physically though the nightmares will probably haunt her for a long time. What I really like about her now is that
she truly has changed. While she’s not “I am Woman, hear me roar!” she is ready to help in any way to make sure these two people get what’s coming to them.

After all the hints dropped about Wyatt’s childhood, I could just feel wounded angst scene coming on. He’s dark, he’s contained and in most other books, simpering sweet Lily would pour balm on his shriveled soul and heal him. Only Lily isn’t a simpering butterfly anymore and though Wyatt has scars from his distant past, he doesn’t wallow in them or use them as an excuse. Now that was a relief. Wyatt’s issues are with what he did as a whistle blower at the agency and how that impacted the cases against several vicious criminals. This makes sense to me as Wyatt doesn’t seem the kind of man to pull the “I had a terrible childhood” card to excuse his actions.

You’ve shown us Lily mooning over Wyatt for two books now and finally we get some action between the two. But given the way this book starts and Lily’s seeming frame of mind about Wyatt now unlike then, it’s almost too fast. I found myself skimming their love scene and mentally urging the book to get back to finding the killer.

As for the suspense part, for a lot of the book, you had me upside down and twisted around. I thought you did one thing at the halfway point and then you flipped that assumption on its head. The manner in which the killer goes about smoking Lily out is smart but when all is said and done I began to have questions. I wasn’t convinced that this person could have killed several people to implicate Lily in their murders. And the final suspense scene included a lot of elements I don’t like including the killer foaming at the mouth and doing a final “tell all” rundown of the crimes and reasons behind them. However, worst of all, Lily does a few TSTL things that facilitate her near death like leaving a door unlocked. That was a WTF? moment of stupidity for me.

Even though this book didn’t live up to the heights of the first two, it did have its moments. I’m not sure if there are more Cyber Action Team books in the making but given the introduction of two new characters, I hope so. And I’ll be there to read them if there are more. C+

~Jayne

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