Whisper of Evil
Whisper of Evil is the second in Kay Hooper’s Evil trilogy, the first being Touching Evil. Both of these books are also loosely tied to the Shadows trilogy. The common link is the involvement of a special FBI team, headed by Noah Bishop and made up of agents with various types of psychic skills.
The main character in Whisper of Evil is Nell Gallagher. She has returned home to the town of Silence after the death of her father. Nell left Silence twelve years previously, and would not have come back if she did not need to wrap up her father’s estate. Nell’s return is cause for quite a bit of comment. Her family has long been considered the town eccentrics. Nell possesses “the Gallagher curse,” a form of psychic gift that allows members of her family to see visions of events that left strong emotional residue. Rumors about Nell’s psychic abilities plus the rumors about her abrupt departure several years ago have made her a source of local gossip.
Unfortunately, the town of Silence has more to gossip about than Nell. Someone is killing men in the community. There have been four murders to date, and the only thing that seems to link the victims is that, after their deaths, some shameful secret they have been keeping comes to light.
Because of her unique abilities, Nell ends up in the middle of the investigation. Complicating matters for her is her old boyfriend, Max Tanner. Max wants to know why Nell left with out a word to him and never contacted him while she was gone. He wants to know what her abilities are and how they affect her. And he wants to know why she refuses to get involved with him now. Max turns out to be just as determined as Nell when it comes to getting answers, and their romance is believable, interesting and full of sexual tension.
But as intriguing as their romance is, it takes back seat to the mystery. Author Hooper manages to maintain a sense of suspense throughout the book. The reader gets interested in all of the characters, from the police and the undercover FBI agents to the local photographer. The reader stays very intrigued by the cast of characters as she tries to figure out who might have committed the crimes. The tension is maintained admirably until the last 50 or so pages, and this is where the book fails.
The author had skillfully uses several red herrings in the plot line to keep the reader wondering, but when the final answer of who-done-it was revealed, it was very frustrating. Both the villain and how the reader finds out about the villain were badly done. The author did not play fair with the reader at the end – the reader cannot have reasonably deduced who the villain was, because few real clues are provided. Although the villain’s history made sense, the method of delivery did not. I cannot say anything else without giving away too much of the final action, but not only was my suspension of disbelief broken, I was quite disappointed with the sloppy ending of what had, up to that point, been a well done, tightly knit mystery.
Although I had some obvious issues with the ending of Whisper of Evil, I find Kay Hooper’s books interesting and am looking forward to trying the next one. Here’s hoping for a cleaner denouement.