Together in Darkness by Sloan McBride World of Dreams Publishing LLC, 2011
A serial killer is stalking young women, strangling and mutilating them, then leaving taunting personal messages for FBI Agent Jake Austin. When the murderer chooses a victim in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Jake follows the trail of blood, he encounters Allison Brody, a woman of Gypsy descent who claims to have a mental connection to the killer. She can’t control her terrible visions; she’s forced to watch through his eyes as he researches and selects his victims then meticulously, almost lovingly, slaughters them. The intimacy of that gaze is horrifying but irresistible.
Jake doesn’t believe in the supernatural, even though as a “profiler” he has the ability to sense the emotional energies lingering at a crime scene. He has no patience with Allison’s claims, even when she is trying to prevent the next murder. Something about the woman triggers his concern and more, though, kindling feelings he believes he can’t afford. It doesn’t help that she’s fiendishly attractive and that their chemistry arouses him whenever she’s in the vicinity.
Allison has tried for a decade to suppress her hereditary powers, ever since she foresaw her parents’ tragic death. As The Surgeon stalks her, both psychically and physically, she start to realize that she can’t escape her destiny. She must embrace her abilities, develop and enhance them, to protect herself and break the chain of death.
When fellow author Sloan McBride mentioned in an author chat group that she had a novel set in Gloucester, I couldn’t resist buying a copy. Gloucester is one of my favorite places in the world – I have a paranormal book of my own set there, very different from Sloan’s – and I was deeply curious to see how someone else portrayed the town.
To be honest, I didn’t find much local color in Together in Darkness, though I recognized some of the geographic references. However, the premise and plot pulled me in to the story. I’ve written before about the personal price of paranormal abilities. This book takes the reader deep into the twisted recesses of a supernatural connection that is simultaneously terrifying and seductive.
I found Jake a bit irritating – he’s unrelentingly macho and has the self-awareness of a potato – but Allison is a fascinating character. Courageous and independent, she’s doing her very best to live with powers that seem to bring nothing but pain. Counseled by the ghost of her Gypsy grandmother, she finally accepts that only by using her supernatural abilities can she stop the killing.
The final resolution surprised me, though the author had provided hints. I was left with a number of unanswered questions. Still, I had to rejoice on Allison’s behalf when she and Jake finally admit that their connection is more than just lust.
Together in Darkness had some flaws, but for the most part was an enjoyable read. I’ll have to check out some of Sloan’s other books.