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REVIEW: Pitch Black by Leslie Parrish

Dear Ms. Parrish,

“Pitch Black,” the second book in your new series has been getting rave reviews at various blog and review sites. After reading it, I can see why. You appear to have taken criticisms of the romantic suspense genre to heart and tried to avoid the ones which cause readers to groan and roll their eyes.

Alec Lambert was supposed to have helped the CAT with their first case months ago but instead he spent the time recovering from the physical wounds he got during a botched field investigation. His body is mainly healed but his psyche remains bruised and he’s still nursing the guilt that his actions helped to contribute to a fellow agent’s death. He knows this chance with the CAT is probably his one shot at redeeming himself and saving his FBI career.

His first day on the job he gets tossed into the deep end as the team begins to investigate the deaths of two teenagers. Combing through the computer of one of them, they find he had contacted Samantha Dalton who runs an internet site devoted to preaching against internet scams and helping people avoid being taken in by them. Though she can’t offer any help with the contact she made with the victim before his death, the team quickly realizes that the killer knows who Sam is and has made contact with her through her website.

Can they use this to track him down before he can lure his next victim to her death? And can they stop him once they realize that Sam is squarely in his sites?

I totally agree with the part of Mrs. Giggles’ review that says this book is like the first but different. Again we have the still-getting-on-their-feet new Cyber Action FBI team whose job is to investigate Internet related murders. The team members are the same and there’s another serial killer they’re trying to track down. But unlike the first book, “Fade to Black,” the possible identity of the killer isn’t restricted to a small, known group of people. And the killer is aware that the FBI is after him. But as with FtB, the level of violence is kept to a minimum on page. It’s left to our imagination to picture what has happened or to skip off it like a stone skimming water if we don’t want to dwell too long on possible scenes.

Sam and Alec have issues from their pasts that still haunt them. His relate to the botched assignment that got him shot because he got too close to a witness while Sam’s are a bad divorce and the death of her grandmother due to the stress of having her life’s savings swindled from her through internet scams. Thus both are reluctant to act on the immediate attraction they have for each other. There were a few times, later in the story, when they edged close to diving into a physical relationship but thankfully their professionalism pulled them back until a time when it was safe to do so.

As in the first book, I didn’t guess the killer. There are a few red herring possibilities but the emphasis seems to be centered on the CAT tracking down how the killer lures his victims and what connection he has to Sam. I like that we get to see the team in action, checking out possible leads and using technology to attempt to track the killer’s movements. It’s only after they fit all the clues together, that the killer’s identity is clear though the final resolution comes only after a breakneck sprint to the finish line. I think the fact that Sam does everything right to help protect herself yet still falls into the killer’s hands makes the book even scarier. The fact that she helps take down the killer herself is sweet.

In my first review, I said something about how readers could probably start with this book if they wanted to. After having read, “Pitch Black,” my warning is not to unless they don’t mind the fact that you reveled the identity of first villain in this book. There is also a continuation of the secondary plot that involves one of the CAT members attempting to help on another case. Again I find myself agreeing with Mrs. Giggles that this subplot takes up too much time here and wimpy Lily annoys me more than anything else. If she plays the role I think she will in the next book, I hope she grows a spine and toughens up. But that’s quite a bombshell you drop on the team members in relation to this and another one in the sneak peek at the next book.

I hope that the next book will live up to the high standards you’ve set with the first two. It’ll be hard but I’m betting you can do it. B+ again.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

13 Comments

  1. Becca
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 15:51:24

    I read Pitch Black first, primarily because I didn’t realize it was second in a series. The spoiler for the first book isn’t that bad… probably because of my lousy memory for details, however.

    I’ll be interested to see what Parrish does with Lil. Yeah, so far she’s annoying, but we’ll see.

    I liked Pitch Black enough that I ordered FtB and pre-ordered the third book. I hope it keeps up with the standards of the first two. I think I’ll be sorry that this is only a 3-book series, even though I really hate infinite series.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:04:50

    The spoiler for the first book isn't that bad… probably because of my lousy memory for details, however.

    Agreed. It’s not too bad but I thought I’d mention it in case anyone who hasn’t read the first book didn’t want to know the outcome.

  3. brooksse
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:17:07

    In my first review, I said something about how readers could probably start with this book if they wanted to. After having read, “Pitch Black,” my warning is not to unless they don't mind the fact that you reveled the identity of first villain in this book.

    I had just started reading Pitch Black when I noticed Leslie Parrish guest blogging over at the Borders blog. I posted a comment asking if it was Ok to read these two out of sequence. Ms. Parrish was gracious enough to provide the pages and paragraphs to avoid in Pitch Black if you don’t want to know the identity of the villian from book one. That prompted me to set aside this book for now and start reading Fade to Black instead.

    btw, Harriet Klausner has a very interesting “review” of Pitch Black over at Amazon. She must have “read” the book at warp speed to have missed such a vital aspect of Alec’s character.

  4. Popin
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:29:03

    I’ll have to pick up these books, judging from your review it looks like a great read. I also like that you said Sam does everything right to protect herself…you don’t see that kind of behaviour happen in many Romantic suspense novels.

    ~ Popin

  5. ASable
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 18:08:00

    I liked this one too. As with the first installment, I thought the author did a good job balancing the romance with the suspense. And, thankfully, the heroine didn’t have any TSTL moments! I agree that Lil better grow a spine for the next book. I like her potential love interest (not giving away any spoilers!). It would be a shame to pair him up with a wimpy Lil.

  6. Kaetrin
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 22:23:40

    I have just finished this book. I read it straight after reading Fade to Black and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the next one. I’m curious about Wyatt’s story.

    Having said that, while I totally understand and respect that in both books the characters respected the ongoing investigation and didn’t have improbable inappropriate sex during it I did want more of the romance.

    I can’t see how my “issue” could be resolved though because more romance and sex means that they have to have improbable/inappropriate sex somewhere because there’s so little time in the story arc. Making the story longer for the romance doesn’t make sense either….

  7. Jayne
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 05:30:48

    Ms. Parrish was gracious enough to provide the pages and paragraphs to avoid in Pitch Black if you don't want to know the identity of the villian from book one.

    brooksse, if you still have that info, would you mind posting it here? I know the early pages of chapter three should be skipped and I think some pages in either chapter 4 or 5.

  8. KeriM
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 07:04:51

    I loved the first book and am looking forward to reading this one.

  9. brooksse
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 08:04:05

    brooksse, if you still have that info, would you mind posting it here? I know the early pages of chapter three should be skipped and I think some pages in either chapter 4 or 5.

    here it is…

    Books 1 and 2 definitely stand alone, BUT you should know that the villain of book 1 is revealed by name a couple of times in book 2. If you don't want to spoil it for yourself, skip the first 2 pages of chapter 3, the first couple of paragraphs on page 89, and the first few paragraphs of page 247.

    http://bordersblog.com/trueromance/2009/08/25/guest-author-leslie-parrish/#comment-758

  10. Jeanette
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 09:22:55

    I am LOVING these books. Both were one day reads for me. I can’t wait for the next.

  11. Jayne
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 12:25:17

    Thanks for posting the spoiler skipage!

  12. Jayne
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 12:31:36

    I have just finished this book. I read it straight after reading Fade to Black and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the next one. I'm curious about Wyatt's story.

    Since I love antique furniture, I caught the references to his house and all the stuff in it. Wyatt seems like the tall, quiet guy in whom still waters run deep.

    Having said that, while I totally understand and respect that in both books the characters respected the ongoing investigation and didn't have improbable inappropriate sex during it I did want more of the romance.

    Arrrgh! This is my major problem with so many suspense books. “Ooh, the murderer is in the next room. Let’s fuck!” I’m so glad not to see this in these books.

    I can't see how my “issue” could be resolved though because more romance and sex means that they have to have improbable/inappropriate sex somewhere because there's so little time in the story arc. Making the story longer for the romance doesn't make sense either….

    Good point. Turning down the danger for a sex scene then dialing it back up afterwards would ruin the suspenseful flow.

  13. Leslie Parrish
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 14:16:59

    Thanks so much for the great review, Jayne, I truly appreciate it.

    Hope you enjoy Black At Heart!

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