Haunting Rachel

Hiding in the Shadows

Out of the Shadows

Sense of Evil

Stealing Shadows

Touching Evil

Yours 2 Keep

Blood Sins
by Kay Hooper
(Bantam, $25, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-553-80485-0
Though it's pretty much exactly like the last half-dozen books in the SCU/Noah Bishop series, fans of Kay Hooper won't be disappointed with Blood Sins -- after all, why mess with a good thing?

Tessa Gray doesn't work for the FBI, but as a civilian advisor for a group called Haven that does basically the same thing as Bishop's unit only without the same legal restrictions. She's been sent to a small southern town called Grace, which is the current home of a cult led by a man the FBI believes is psychic. As a matter of fact, Bishop and the SCU can't actually decide what kind of psychic Samuel is, but from a previous experience (check out Blood Dreams if you haven't read it already), they know he's extremely strong, despite the fact that no one can get a read on him.

It quickly becomes clear that Samuel is syphoning energy off of his followers, to the point of basically hollowing them out – or, occasionally, killing them.  That's where police chief Sawyer Cavenaugh comes in; over the last few months, several bodies have turned up downstream of the Compound where most of the cult members live. Their bodies are crushed, seemingly from the inside, and their eyes have gone entirely white. No one comes forward to claim or identify the individuals, but Sawyer won't be dissuaded that Samuel's cult is covering up something atrocious.

The energy at the Compound is so wild that Tessa's psychic ability as a clairvoyant immediately begins evolving.  She knows someone there – probably Samuel – is keeping a literal, psychic, and figurative eye on her. She also knows that there is a girl named Ruby who is desperately seeking help – before Samuel makes her his next Chosen.

As always, the suspense is what drives this book. There are a lot of characters, primarily from the SCU and Haven, who rotate in and out of the story. They're pretty easy to keep identified in this book, but readers may have trouble recalling what roles they have played in previous novels.

And the four hearts rating is a bit misleading: the romance in this novel is all but non-existent. Sawyer makes it clear as mud that he's interested in Tessa, who for the most part doesn't reveal anything at all but irritation with the poor timing. The two of them never get beyond the awkward conversation phase. Realistic, yes, given the quick pace at which the book moves.  Satisfying to those fans of Hooper's or romance in general who want at least one set of characters to hook up?  Probably not so much.

Strangely, Tessa Gray isn't the character the reader will really get to know. Hollis is back again, playing a major part, and it's with her that most people will probably relate.

Though Blood SinsBlood trilogy and the Noah Bishop series as a whole, it really isn't necessary to read the books in a particular order, and I don't think reading Blood Sins first will be detrimental to the Kay Hooper experience. In fact, given the non-stop action and huge number of characters, more pieces may fall into place if the books are not read chronologically.

All in all, there was really nothing spectacular about Blood Sins, but fans of the author, the series, or paranormal suspense in general will certainly be pleased with the accomplishment and will look forward to the third book of this trilogy – where we may or may not find out who is targeting Noah Bishop himself.

--Sarrah Knight

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