Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Ever since a friend recommended The Gift by Alexandra Sokoloff, I've been intrigued by Sokoloff's gift for creeping horror and surprising stories. I didn't know then that she was also a screenwriter, which explains how she is able to pain scenes that jump off the page. That is no less true for Blood Moon the second book in the FBI Thriller series that began with Huntress Moon. 

Blood Moon begins where Huntress Moon ended with Special Agent Matt Roarke chasing Cara Lindstrom, the only survivor of The Reaper's bloody family murders. Baptized in blood, Cara is that rarest of serial murders, a female serial killer. Roarke isn't quite convinced that Cara is a serial killer, rather more a vigilante, which is in keeping with who she kills -- men who have wronged women by rape, murder, incest, and violence. That is how Roarke first becmae involved with Cara; she said something to his undercover agent before pushing him into the path of oncoming traffic until the agent was a bloodied, broken smear on the highway.

In Blood Moon, Roarke is expressly forbidden to continue investigating Cara Lindstrom and ordered to get back to work on his organized crime take-down, but Roarke is emotionally invested in pursuing Cara. Good thing there is a holiday coming up and he and his team have a good plan for moving on Cara by tricking her into believing they are after The Reaper, a case they know will get her attention so they can get her.

While searching for a similar murder to pretend to investigate as if The Reaper was active again, Roarke and his team stumble into the midst of The Reaper's latest killing -- or so they think. All the signs are there, but Cara is nowhere to be found. She's off on business of her own, working from an apartment in the Haight in San Francisco. Cara kills again and Roarke is two steps behind The Reaper who is actually killing again in a small community in the mountains.

Alexandra Sokoloff has created a very realistic set of characters with easily recognizable quirks and talents, a team that works well together -- most of the time. Roarke's second is a dapper man who prefers the good things in life and is close enough to Roarke to realize his friend and colleague has mixed feelings about Cara Lindstrom, especially when it comes to catching her. Roarke isn't acting at all like his efficient self and that has Epps frustrated and angry. Epps doesn't want to lose his friend or see him in jail.

The relationship between Cara and Roarke has its ups and downs, but there is a noticeable pull between them that is not only understandable but makes sense -- inside and outside of the book. They are bound together by forces stronger than cop chasing criminal, forces forged when Cara was found alive in the wake of The Reaper's bloody spree. Both were forged in the blood of The Reaper's kills but took different paths.

Although the creepy horror that infused Huntress Moon is not a part of Blood Moon, the boogey man -- or woman -- have been unmasked, there remains a strong sense of purpose and excitement when it is revelaed that The Reaper has returned and is hunting families again. As clue by clue Roarke gets closer to understanding The Reaper's motives and his methods, the sense of purpose grows stronger.

Sokoloff sets up scene after scene of horror made more horrific by the idyllic surroundings and placid, happy lives that are touched by the Evil of The Reaper's evolving pattern. Blood Moon is horrifying at moments, but at it's heart is an exciting chase after Evil as Evil is being redefined and refined. Justice becomes less clearly defined and more satisfying when reached.

One question remains. How do you define justice?

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