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Leslie Parrish

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

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

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. The Amazon Affiliate link earns us a 6-7% affiliate fee if you purchase a book through the link (or anything for that matter) and the Sony link is in conjunction with the sponsorship deal we made for the year of 2009. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Sony through the book link.

Dear Author

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.