Renowned nonverbal communications expert Doctor Genevieve Lenard’s search for an international criminal is interrupted when her team receives an antique book. At first the book is dismissed–until they discover similar books gifted to people who are now dead.
Genevieve’s inner strength is put to the ultimate test when someone close to her also falls victim to the vengeful actions of an unsound mind. Barely coping with the emotional maelstrom and her doubts about her own continued involvement in the team, she looks for connections between their original case, the books and the many suspicious deaths they uncover.
But the cost might be too high for Genevieve as she rushes to stop the person set on destroying as many lives as possible.
A quick note before I get into the nuts and bolts that I like to examine. I like fantasy and science fiction, so whenever I dive into one of Estelle Ryan’s books, it’s always a surprise just how much I enjoy them. However, I kicked and moaned about picking up this book for ages because the first several had the same cast through all four books, and only a small shift in the fifth. I’d gotten bored with the interactions. (And, seeing the same bad guys get away… again.) So, even though I’d had reliable reports that there were new situations, and a different cast in this book, I wasn’t overly eager to start it. However, I’m very glad I did, and very glad to say it was just as enjoyable as the first book.
Since this is a murder/mystery, there is not exotic world building that needs to be done. Instead, the setting is provided in the modern world with a few unusual circumstances. Estelle does a wonderful job developing the circumstances in each of the books from a fresh perspective, yet manages to not repeat herself. The book is truly a stand alone, but it also adheres to the internal chronology for the world that contains Genevieve Lenard. As such, Ms. Ryan does an excellent job developing the world for someone who has just discovered the book, while extending that world a little further for those who have been with her from the very beginning.
The characters face several issues in this installment that they have not had to face before. This ensures that there is a mountain of character growth. I had to double check some of my thoughts on the books prior to this one, and I can honestly say that the small deficiencies I’d noted before have been corrected. A couple of the central cast did not get as much development as the rest, but with a support cast that winds up growing by one for a total of seven, not all of them can get enough “screen” time to really shine. And, the new addition did not take any time to go from sketch to flesh – and what a wonderful addition he is to the cast. I hope to see more of him in the coming books.
The pacing is spot on. Both for the development, and for the story itself. There are a few places were things feel like they’re trying to stall, but every time it’s actually the top of the first drop on the roller coaster you’ve signed up to ride when you crack open the book to read.
All in all, despite being a little worried about what the Genevieve and her friends had to face, I’m happy to report this one earns a solid four out of five stars from me. The docked star comes from a problem I think every author would love to have – the plot of the story is just a hairline too memorable. It’s going to be a while before I can go back and re-read and not know what’s coming around the bend. But I WILL be going back to re-read. I just want to be as delighted by the twists and turns next time as I was this time. Well done, and highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a character driven story. Especially one written with the focus on someone who lives with the symptoms of being on the autism spectrum (the old terminology would be a high functioning autistic.)
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