Review: Fear the Darkness: A Thriller by Becky Masterman

fear-the-darkness“Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn knows how difficult it can be to overcome one’s past. But she is nothing if not a fighter. Even when the return of a serial killer from her past threatened to derail her new marriage, she managed to hold on to the life she’s been trying to build in Tucson with her husband, Carlo.

At first, the new challenges in her life seem pretty mundane compared to a serial killer. After her sister-in-law dies, Brigid’s nineteen-year-old niece Gemma Kate comes to live with her and Carlo, to establish Arizona residency before starting college. Brigid doesn’t exactly love the idea, especially since there’s always been something unsettling about Gemma Kate, but family is family. Meanwhile, Brigid agrees to help a local couple by investigating the death of their son—until dangerous things start to happen. As the menace comes closer and closer to home, Brigid starts to wonder if she can trust anyone.

After spending her career hunting sexual predators, Brigid has seen her share of evil. Nevertheless, the worst threats are not always easy to spot, even when they are right in front of you—partly because few people manage to be pure evil. But Brigid knows it’s what you don’t see, what you never expected, that can be the most treacherous… Becky Masterman’s Fear the Darkness is the masterful follow-up to the Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Rage Against the Dying.” – Publisher Summary

Brigid Quinn is back, y’all, and she’s better than ever! After taking on a serial killer from her past in Rage Against the Dying, the 59-year-old ex-FBI agent is now faced with a case much closer to home. After the death of Brigid’s sister-in-law, she and her husband, Carlo, bring her 17-year-old niece, Gemma-Kate, into their home until she is able to begin college at the University of Arizona. Almost as soon as Gemma-Kate arrives, however, strange things begin happening. As the peculiar incidents multiply, Brigid finds that the common link is Gemma-Kate and begins to wonder if bringing her into her home was such a bright idea after all.

Meanwhile, Brigid is asked to investigate the drowning death of a local teenager. While her goal is to help the dead boy’s mother find a sense of peace by discounting any suspicions of foul play, Brigid soon begins to question the circumstances of the boy’s death and the investigation around it. As she investigates, Brigid begins experiencing unusual physical symptoms that threaten to distract her from discovering the truth.

Becky Masterman has truly come into her own with Fear the Darkness, the second installment of the Brigid Quinn series. Brigid’s character has been more fleshed out, developing more of a personality than in the debut novel – a sardonic and humorous personality, at that. Masterman skillfully pierces Brigid’s thick armor to show us the changes she’s made in her new life with Carlos; even more captivating is the fear she shows when contemplating Gemma-Kate’s possible psychopathy – is this merely part of the darkness born within every Quinn, or something more?

Masterman weaves these storylines together with skill, laying false paths and creating multiple pools of possibility, until she pulls off a surprise reveal with a talent previously unsuspected by myself. As one who usually guesses “whodunnit” early-on in a novel, I was guessing until close to the end – which always earns points in my book. The feisty and tough Brigid Quinn is a heroine to be reckoned with, and I look forward to following her path through future additions to the series. Go and get you some, y’all!

Fear the Darkness: A Thriller by Becky Masterman: At a bookseller near you on January 20, 2015

4 stars

Source: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books {via NetGalley}

 

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