Favorite Quote: Here there was no fear or grief. No worry or pain. Here I would stay.
Reviewed by Tori
Picking up not long after book two, Curse of the Land, Flame in the Dark opens to Nell arriving at a crime scene where a senator has been attacked at a fundraising party and the whole situation has a strong supernatural feel to it. Especially when the prominent guest list comes to light. Was it the senator, Abrams Tolliver, or perhaps Ming of Glass, the Blood Master of Clan Glass. who was the intended victim? When Nell arrives, she discovers that Rick LaFleur, her boss, is back from New Orleans, along with the head of the PsyLED, Soul. Nell senses something is amiss with Rick and Soul but before she can divulge deeper into it, Nell picks up instantly that there is something odd about the assassin. She uses her gift only to discover the assassin is a supernatural and she has no idea who or what they are. She only knows they are a threat to the land and therefore a threat to her.
As the investigation progresses, the clues pile up with little direction until a chance discovery reveals a history that leads back to one of their own and is rich in violence and betrayal. When the villain comes after Nell and those she has come to care for, she will finally let go of the last remaining ties that bind her.
This was my magic, my dark power. To take the life of anyone who bled onto the land I claimed as my own.
NOTE: This series coexists with Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock world. There are signs of increased intermingling so there may be some light spoilers in here. If you haven’t read her Yellowrock series, start now. It is sublime and is the base on which both series are built on. You can read my reviews here.
Special Agent Nell Ingram is back though she remains on probationary status with PsyLED as she continues to stretch her wings and test her boundaries more each day, some time to the detriment of Unit eighteen. Her ‘romance’ with fellow agent Occum remains in the infant stage while Nell attempts to understand the social nuances of dating. Her family’s attempts to matchmake doesn’t help. Add in a case that is going to test the limits of everyone involved…and Nell has her hands full this go around.
Nell is an interesting and complex character who continues to evolve in a slow and sure fashion. Raised in a fundamentalist church sect where polygamy and abuse are the norms, Nell escaped by choosing a different prison though she has since reconciled with her parents. She straddles these two worlds as she seeks to shake the remaining shackles of her upbringing and push boldly into the future. Her supernatural abilities only add to her confusion as she cannot forget her church practiced the notion to “never suffer a witch.” With her youngest sister showing signs of the same powers, Nell is determined to protect her… no matter what. She not only fears Mud may end up making the same mistakes she did but fears the church will force her into marriage and stifle all her abilities.
“…if he was gone, then no one stood between the churchmen and Mud. They would force her…force her to marry one of them.”
This energetic story overflows with action, suspense, intrigue, and just the right amount of dark humor as Nell discovers more about herself and those around her while she helps to look for a killer. One of the main reasons that draws me to Faith Hunter’s writing is the fact she thinks outside the box. While the common paranormal entities are seen in here, she also brings in new entities and seamlessly integrates them into the arc as if they always existed. This storyline is no exception. Fans will love the unique villains in here and the cunning way Hunter uses them in the story. The already solid character base increases in size, introducing new faces while expanding on the older more established ones as she guides readers through this latest adventure. For once, the mystery had me completely stumped as Hunter kept me guessing until the very end.
The story lines stay in motion, circling around each other as the information pours in from all sides. Sometimes a little too much information. I became confused a few times and had to backtrack as Hunter adds a few stringers to misdirect us and answer a few ongoing questions. The cryptic conflict blends well with the emotional and physical changes in Nell. Important alterations to the various relationships around Nell are noted and I am excited about some of them. Her feelings for Occum, her claiming of Rick, her confession to her parents, her teammates, etc…all show signs of change though into what remains to be seen.
Hunter gave longtime fans what they wanted in Cold Reign (Book 11-Jane Yellowrock series). Rick apologized to Jane for everything. Not only for humiliating her but for his actions from the very beginning. Nell addresses this in here, acknowledging Rick’s sorrow and curious as to what he will do now.
The ending is a high octane finale that endings the main conflict and some personal conflicts on a high note with Hunter giving us some intriguing hints as to what is coming. Nell leaves us stronger, more confident, and ready to take on the world. With the way this story ends, I am more than ready for book four title and release date to be announced.
“…I’m going to kiss you, Nell, sugar.”
“A proper improper kiss?”
“The most improper kiss I can think of, Nell, sugar.”