by Leslie Parrish, paranormal (2010)
Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-23074-4
Cold Sight is the first book in Leslie Parrish's new series Extrasensory Agents, but it has plenty in common with the books in her Black CATs series: a good balance of romance and suspense, likable wounded characters, and gripping narrative.
As you can guess from the name of the series, we have some folks with psychic abilities running around solving murder cases and such. eXtreme Investigations is the rather cheesily-named private enterprise that made up of these folks. Our hero in this story, Aidan McConnell, however, had voluntarily left them some time ago due to a botched case that ended with the death of a young girl. Currently he is living as a recluse in a small town called Granville.
Granville looks like the perfect small town, but Alexa Nolan knows more than most that appearances can be very deceiving. Her reputation as a reporter had been torn to shreds when the investigative pieces she had been working on - about missing young ladies in the neighborhood - were discredited and her attempts at further investigation were hindered by the folks who had power in that town. When Vonnie Jackson vanishes without a trace, Lexie is approached by her editor to "reopen her case", so to speak. Lexie suspects that Vonnie is abducted by the same person who had caused the disappearance of the young girls she had been looking into. Now that a disgraced psychic with a reputation of helping solve cases of this nature pretty accurately until his last case has moved into the neighborhood, she decides to knock on his door and asks for his assistance.
Soon these two are in a race against time to locate Vonnie - who may still be alive - and in the process uncovers some sordid secrets, secrets that some powerful folks in Granville will do anything to keep hidden.
Cold Sight isn't a particularly violent romantic suspense as the level of graphic violence is mild compared to Ms Parrish's early Black CATs books. However, this is no cozy read as there are plenty of psychological chills to be had. Ms Parrish humanizes the victims of the villain in this book, and as a result, it is very easy to care for these ladies and feel horrified, even violated, when they end up in the clutches of the villain. I can understand why Aidan sometimes wishes that he can disengage and not feel too much about a case - this is not a light read by any means due to how easy it is to care for the victims and how horrifying it is, therefore, to read about the terror and agony experienced by these victims.
The suspense is actually very solidly put together. The story takes place in a brisk pace, there is a taut and gripping sense of urgency as our good guys rush to locate Vonnie, and the denouement is solid. Meanwhile, the romance is also pretty solid. Both Lexie and Aidan have some obvious chemistry and Ms Parrish manages to make their relationship develop in a believable manner alongside the development of the suspense plot. Neither romance nor suspense overshadows or gets in the way of each other. Both Lexie and Aidan have been burned by cases that nearly destroyed their careers, but there is no denying that both characters have enough nobility in them to make them the good guys.
All in all, I find Cold Sight a very good read that is very hard to put down. The only thing I don't particularly enjoy about this book is the cover. Couldn't they find some guy that resembles a stereotypical brooding sparkling vampire type a little bit less to pose for the cover?
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