Haunting Rachel

Hiding in the Shadows

Out of the Shadows

Stealing Shadows

Touching Evil

Yours 2 Keep

Sense of Evil by Kay Hooper
(Bantam, $7.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-553-58347-6
Rafe Sullivan, chief of police in Hastings, South Carolina, admits that there is a brutal serial killer at work in his town targeting blondes. Knowing that the local people need help in identifying the culprit, he asks for assistance from the FBI. This case is referred to the Special Crimes Unit headed by Noah Bishop, a division of the Bureau staffed by psychics. Isabel Adams and Hollis Templeton are assigned. Rafe is horrified when he realizes who the FBI has sent. Of course, Isabelís a martial arts expert, but sheís also a beautiful blonde.

Isabel has a special reason for wanting to be assigned to this case. She believes that this particular serial killer has killed before. The killer murders six women in six weeks in one location then there is a five-year break before killing again in the same pattern somewhere else. Isabelís friend was the first victim.

The well-publicized case has attracted various members of the media to Hastings. A brunette TV reporter is killed. Has the killer changed technique? Did the reporter see something?

Meanwhile, Isabel and Rafe are establishing their own psychic connection, but she knows that the killer has added to her to the list of potential victims.

This is the third in the Evil trilogy (following Touching Evil and Whisper of Evil), but some of the characters are left over from earlier books by the author. Nevertheless, it stands fairly decently on its own. Any necessary background material Ėand much thatís unnecessary Ė is covered in considerable detail. In fact, the frequent digressions into discussion about what kind of psychics the various members of the Special Crimes Unit are, how they got that way, what they can do, why they should do it, how it all works, etc. gets tedious and interferes with the storyís pacing.

ďThis is a little hard to swallow,Ē Rafe said finally.

I have to agree.

The plot suffers from the excessive psychic focus. The serial killer investigation often seems not much more than an excuse to bring the psychics to town. A little more action and a lot less psychic babble would make for a more gripping narrative.

I am not terribly impressed by all this psychic crime-solving. I donít believe I have a smidgen of psychic talent yet I saw the plot twist a mile away while the so-called psychics were clueless. Maybe the FBI should have sent the old-fashioned do-it-by-the-book investigators instead.

Furthermore, the frequent headhopping is distracting. Just about every character has an opportunity to contribute his opinion about whatís going on, and lots of them just arenít that interesting. Romantic suspense requires both romance and suspense, but Sense of Evil has little romance and only slightly more suspense.

The PG-13 rating is more for violence than for sexual content. Thereís ample bedroom activity by various characters, but itís not too graphic ... or very romantic.

If youíve read previous books by the author that focus on the adventures of Bishopís SCU, this episode might appeal. Others may experience a sense of disappointment.

--Lesley Dunlap

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