One of the problems with reviewing one of Alexandra Sokoloff’s books is the extreme difficulty in not sharing the whole plot and all the character quirks and all the interwoven threads, ending with It was so amazing—you need to read it!
The first book of her new series is no exception, but I’m going to give it a try.
Huntress Moon begins with FBI Special Agent Roarke waiting in a suitably public place for an emergency meeting with one of his team, who has been working undercover for some time. Across the street, he sees a woman staring at his agent—ten seconds later, the man is dead and the woman is gone. Though the death is ruled accidental, Roarke’s instincts tell him it was anything but. He goes hunting . . . and uncovers several more “accidental deaths,” all apparently random and all involving the same woman.
Roarke knows that female serial killers are statistically improbable—but he also knows that this woman is hunting down specific victims for specific reasons, and that he’d needs to figure out her pattern and stop her before she kills again.
Meanwhile, his unsub is unexpectedly befriended by a special little boy. But her instincts are telling her that her work isn’t finished . . .
This novel is compelling. I was about a third of the way through when I misplaced my eReader—I ended up reading the rest on my laptop on a viewing pane so small, it took forty or so clicks to scroll through each page. It’s a credit to Ms. Sokoloff’s talent that I was quickly too involved in the story to care—or to pay attention to the complaints when my family noticed the noise.
I was so involved, in fact, that it took a couple chapters to realize that the scenes written from the woman’s POV are in present tense, while Roarke’s are in past tense. This is more than a neat trick to tweak the tension—it’s a perfect description of the characters themselves and a natural extension of their individual focus: Roarke is searching the past for answers and his unsub’s demons force her to live wholly in the present.
This is more than a “serial killer novel,” and it’s certainly not a gratuitous gorefest—it’s an exploration of different flavors of good and evil and the possible sources of both. There’s a supernatural factor that may or may not be real— for several given values of real— but while that’s one of the reasons I enjoy Ms. Sokoloff’s stuff, it isn’t what caught me in this particular book.
It was the connections—practical, physical, and emotional—between the characters that had me hunching over my laptop at all hours. I forged a few myself, and not only with Roarke and his right hand man—whom I hope is based on someone I could actually call if I’m ever in this much trouble—or the small, damaged family who connects with a woman more broken that they can imagine.
I’m not sure if this reaction counts as a spoiler, but I’m going to say it anyway: I’ve felt fleeting pangs of sympathy for a few literary serial killers before* but this is the first time I’ve wanted to actively assist one. It’s a weird feeling, having one’s beliefs and ethics bend like that.
And I suspect Roarke might learn that feeling as this series moves on.
I can’t wait.
It’s so amazing. You need to read it.
*Dexter is on his own—which is how he likes it—but I’m still haunted by Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon by Tom Harris. I don’t care if the depiction or motivations were realistic or not, I just want to go back in time and rescue that poor kid.