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.