After Caroline

Finding Laura

Haunting Rachel

Hiding in the Shadows

Stealing Shadows

Yours 2 Keep

Out Of The Shadows
by Kay Hooper
(Bantam, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-533-57695-X
When it comes to romantic suspense, Iíve often found myself to be a conflicted reader. I enjoy both romance and mystery, but I tend to read the genres differently. In romance, I take a very personal interest in the characters. In mystery, itís the unknown and the ultimate solution that keeps me turning the pages. While Out Of The Shadows is easily one of the best suspense novels I have ever read, it crossed a few lines that the romance lover in me is unable to forgive.

Gladstone, Tennessee is a small town straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting - that is until a horrifying monster begins to stalk the townís teenage population. Teenage victims are found tortured to death, often times with their blood and various body parts missing. The killer is so smart that he leaves very little evidence behind for the police to sift through, and what they do uncover doesnít make a whole lot of sense. Sheriff Miranda Knight immediately knows that her small town department is ill equipped to deal with these slayings, so she very reluctantly calls in a special FBI task force.

FBI Profiler, Noah Bishop, has spent his career tracking down monsters. One of the reasons he is so good at his job is that he happens to be a very powerful psychic. When he gets the call that Miranda has asked for help, he literally asks how quickly the jet can be warmed up. But when his team arrives, they encounter nothing but resistance from Miranda. She also has powerful psychic abilities, and is unwilling to drop her protective shields, even if it may help stop a killer.

Bishop and Miranda share a very painful past, one that also affected Mirandaís teenage sister, Bonnie. Itís a past that is so traumatic, that Miranda felt the need to take her sister and run away. Now Miranda needs help, and the only person who can give it to her is a man she doesnít trust.

Hooper has a way of creating tension and suspense that easily had me flipping the pages. Itís apparent right from the start that Miranda and Bishop share a past, and along with the hunt for a psychopath, it made Out Of The Shadows an extremely engrossing read. The ease in which the author is able to weave romance, suspense and the paranormal in a seamless fashion is something to behold.

Readers should be warned that for a romantic suspense novel, this third book in Hooperís Shadow series is very dark and often grisly. Readers with active imaginations may find the details of the crimes extremely disturbing, as I often did. If I happened to be a mother of a teenager, I imagine I would have found this story particularly hard to read.

This is where I had the biggest problem with the story, and led to my three-heart rating. Out Of The Shadows has a pretty high death toll, and towards the climatic finish, the author includes a victim that I had personally come to care about. While the story does ultimately have a happy ending, I was left with a lack of closure. The final victim directly affects several other characters in the story, most importantly one that is left in limbo and is unable to come to terms with the loss in the few remaining chapters. It does offer up a wonderful future story line for Hooper to explore, and for my own sake, I hope she does.

While a suspenseful read and an easy page-turner, Out Of The Shadows may be a little too far on the dark side for many romance readers. While the mystery reader in me couldnít get enough; the romance reader in me was left unsatisfied and a little depressed by the close of the last chapter.

--Wendy Crutcher

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