First he learns your darkest fears. Then he makes you live them.
With a serial rapist on the loose on the streets of Savannah, hot-shot detective Ryne Robel needs all the help he can get for his task force. And he needs it now, before another woman falls victim. But Abbie Phillips isn't what he bargained for. Sent from an exclusive group of the best criminologists in the country, she's smart, fierce…and distracting. She may be a brilliant forensic profiler, but Ryne needs answers, not pyschobabble and head games.
However, Abbie convinces him that head games are exactly what this elusive suspect is all about. The seemingly random acts or torture are actually calculated to match each victim's darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he's watching them—the next objects of his horrifying obsession.
I have seen Kylie Brant's books around over the years, but it wasn't until Colleen Gleason mentioned her latest release to me that I decided to give them a try. I was in a romantic suspense mode, still am in fact, so I thought it sounded exactly the type of stories I was looking for. Something grittier, edgier, without any paranormal elements but grounded strictly in realistic terms.
This first story in Kylie's Mindhunters series was about a serial rapist. Right then and there, there's a feeling of not quite fear, but of serious tension. Rape. It's one of every woman's nightmares, and here was a villain that not only raped women, but set it up to prolong their suffering long after the brutal attacks. He feeds on their deepest fears and exploits them so cruelly that the victims are left not only reliving the rape but must live with the permanent "scars" he leaves behind.
Ryne Robel is a tough detective determined to capture the monster praying on these women, but he can't do it alone. Along with a variety of law enforcement officials and experts, the profiling skills of Abbie Phillips have been added to the mix without his consent. See, Abbie is a profiler, and Ryne just doesn't have much faith in her line of work. It isn't until he starts to work more closely with her that he realizes the potential her experience brings to his team, and he utilizes her strengths to try to stop another attack from happening. Now if only she would stay out of his head....
Abbie has her own issues, least of all a troubled sister whom Abbie feels responsible for, so she doesn't have time for an unwanted attraction for a man who obviously doesn't want her around. But she's been down this road before, and she wasn't going to let Ryne's attitude chase her off the case. She has a job to do, and she knows she's more than capable of handling this case, with or without the lead detective's cooperation. Time was running out and if they didn't work together to catch a monster, someone else would pay the price...
I was very intrigued by the premise of this book, although at the same time it gave me chills to read about a man who likes to hurt women. I liked that we see Ryne and Abbie as being very competent in their careers, yet at the same time each of them had demons that drove them. Their jobs were beyond stressful, and made it difficult to maintain stable relationships with their loved ones. It also made them guy-shy to even consider the possibility of getting involved beyond a temporary fling, yet even that didn't seem like a good idea either. Both of them understood that what they were feeling - respect, understanding of the pressures of the job, admiration - went beyond mere attraction, and it scared them off. But sometimes you can't always listen to the voices in your head, so they engage in a passionate affair that gives them a chance to briefly forget about the horrors of their day-to-day job and just "be".
I liked both Ryne and Abbie very much. They were both strong characters but not invincible, and watching the struggle between the logical and the emotional made them all the more real. Abbie especially had a difficult time sometimes separating the reactions of her heart from what she knew in her head to be true. These were human characters who didn't always see reason, and I think the story was the better for it.
The story was going along rather nicely until about the last few chapters of the story, when we discover who the rapist is. This part just seemed to overly rushed, and I didn't feel like we had a clear idea of the attacker, which left me wanting more. Maybe I just like getting into the head of the villain and discovering what his motivation may be, but the ending felt rather abrupt. The story alluded to the abuse he had suffered, but I wanted more. Does that make me a voyeuristic reader? Quite possibly. I just felt a little cheated at the end and wanted find out more about the attacker's history.
Overall though, it was a good, solid story, and an interesting introduction into the world of the Mindhunters. I already have book #2 lined up to read sometime in the near future, and....a Kylie Brant interview. I might be giving away a copy of all three of the books listed at her website, so stay tuned for that....
Rating: **** out of *****
Labels: Kylie Brant