Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Kay Hooper - Touching Evil

Seattle police sketch artist Maggie Barnes has an extraordinary gift. She listens as traumatized crime victims describe their ordeals -- and then uses those horrifying recollections to draw dead-on sketches of the assailants.
Some cops think Maggie is telepathic, that she can actually enter the victims' minds. Only Maggie knows the truth behind her rare talent ... and she isn't telling.
But her secret may be exposed when a madman seizes Seattle in his terrifying grip. He abducts women and blinds them, leaving them barely alive.
The police have one hope: the lone victim who might recover her sight. But they don't know that Maggie has her own dark connection to the monster -- an eerie link that may stretch back to a string of unsolved murders.
To stop the escalating terror, Maggie will have to push her abilities to the breaking point -- even if it means confronting a predator whose powers seem to have no bounds....

Comment: One year has passed since I've read the first book by this author I had. Since it's always better late than never, I've decided to read the rest, so that can be a "done task".

In this book, Maggie Barnes is a young woman who works as sketch artist for the police and everyone knows she has this rare ability to understand the victims so well, almost as if she can guess what they think as they describe things. But a killer is targeting women and the clues just don't seem to add up, except the latest victim survived, despite the terrible attack she - and the others - suffered, since the killer removes their eyes. Perhaps Maggie can get better information from this woman now, but her first attempt is curtailed when John Garret somehow interrupts her work. John is the brother of another victim, who killed herself, and John wants to know why for he thought his sister would be recovering as best as she could... bringing in the special team of the FBI seems to be the best option, for everyone believes this killer is a strange kind of evil... will this killer be caught before more women are murdered?

Sadly, the cover of this book is as unappealing as the one of the other book I tried but the content is pretty much in the same vein. I see this book is considered to be the first in a sub section of the Special Crimes Unit series, but there seems to be a chronological sequence to events... meaning we have a reference here and there about previous characters or situations. Nevertheless, the plot of this story works out very well on its own and I didn't feel I would have had to read the previous one to follow the plot here.
I suppose this helps in picking the books whose plots/blurbs fascinate the most - the series is quite long and many characters will be secondary in several of the books, I bet.

I would say there are two big elements in this book: the plot related to the catching of the killer and the very slight paranormal aspects related to the main characters and the way the series is focused on these people somehow using their abilities to help the police and such. It does seem that the author has developed a series where these two things are connected but the paranormal aspects are quite simple, so no magic or fantasy stuff. It makes many things easier to believe in or to accept, even if one isn't a fan of anything outside the norm in suspense books.

The plot is simple, basically the killer attacks women for some reason, and takes their eyes probably because of some symbolism. When the story begins, four women had been attacked and two are still alive. However, one is permanently blind and the other has had surgery, which means she might recover. Starting from here, Maggie Barnes talks to this woman and hopes to get some clue to draw the man or to understand why he chooses their victims for it seems they have nothing in common.

I liked the story, yes, and the steps taken in order for us to understand why and how the police found clues or reached certain conclusions. I found the whole thing to be well thought in general, and the killer's actions to make sense when we got all the clues. With this I mean the killer wasn't just randomly picking women, there was definitely a common point, but to be fair I don't know how acceptable this might for for some readers. It's one of those things that is closely linked to the paranormal side of the story and it might seem a bit far fetched.

Maggie's role is quite important here and since she works for the police it isn't weird how much she can do in terms of investigating herself or going to places a civilian might not be able to go. Her paranormal ability is understandable enough and I've seen it in other books, so I could have an idea of where the author wanted to go with it. However, that aside, we don't get much out of Maggie as a person... she is pretty much basically characterized, as is John. Some secondary cops are easier to read because of their actions, unlike the main protagonists whom I felt weren't that well developed.

There are also some scenes I found too confusing, for instance all things related to Maggie's brother Beau. He also has some paranormal abilities and there's this scene where he paints a painting and someone else talks to him about it... that person never shows up again so what was the point? As for the killer, when we get the interesting paranormal explanation of why those victims, I don't think the plot truly presented the best information on these things...the whys aren't fully reasonable I think.
Despite my doubts, I still enjoyed reading this story and the police stuff, how they investigated and connected the dots. 

The author also includes some romance content and we get to see Maggie and John becoming closer and they declare themselves in the end. But i felt this was a very poor element, because without better characterization, they never really get to feel like believable people and I didn't feel much emotional connection with them. This means I was content enough to think they might become a happy couple, but there was no real hint of it through the book, just a few scenes which were supposed to convince us. I know this isn't primarily a romance, but if the author includes it to start with, then a better job could have been done too.
Grade: 6/10

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