This is the sixteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit of the FBI series. If you are new to the series, do not fret. She always writes her books in trilogies. This should be the first, if numerous past examples have shown, in such a trilogy. Bishop is the head of a unit of FBI agents that he has specially formed, fighting an uphill battle with the bureau and other law enforcement officers along the way, completely with psychics. He recruits them and trains them as agents. They learn what all agents learn: how to use a gun, profile, and old fashioned police work. Their psychic abilities are just another tool in the tool box, that sometimes can work against them. Several books ago, thankfully, Hooper began including bios of the returning characters in the books and which books they were previously in (after a while, with so many, you tend to forget), definitions of terms, and a timeline of when the books take place. Hooper, who lives in the mountains of North Carolina, sets most of her books in the southeast, mostly in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.
This book opens up in Serenity, Tennessee, a small mountain town, where two teens, who appear to have been running away together, have left their packed car and purse, with the doors wide open and the keys in the car, on the side of the road. Deputy Sarah Waters finds the jeep and their footprints that lead down the hill and suddenly stop. She calls Jonah, the chief, and they discover something even stranger: the amount of time they had spent there was the amount of time their watches had stopped for. Jonah does not want to panic the town, so he has Sarah take pictures of the vehicle and the prints and has the jeep towed as quickly as possible. They do not want anyone thinking something weird is going on, because that is when panic can creep in.
Soon, however, more people go missing, and when a ten-year-old girl, Nessa, vanishes from right inside her family's heavily secured home, with motion detection video cameras, Jonah, who has taken classes and worked on ops with the FBI, sends in a call straight to Bishop and asks them to come in. Bishop's talent is a touch telepath, as well as having heightened senses (or spidey senses, as the team, refers to them as). With his wife Miranda, whom he has a psychic bond, they share a precognitive ability, which means they can see many possible futures, which does them not much good because warning their team may bring about the fate they are trying to avoid. He also, mysteriously, always knows what's going on with his agents in the field. This is never explained in any of the books. Bishop is a very mysterious character.
The four agents chosen to go to Serenity are: Lead agent, Lucas Jordan (He has the ability to find people who are lost by accident, victims of crimes, or abducted. He can feel the pain and fear of the person and hone into where they are. However, this does not work if they are drugged, dead, or do not want to be found), his wife, Samantha Jordan (Seer and clairvoyant. She can not control precognition, but she is able, with great accuracy, to pick up information when she touches objects and people.), Robbie Hodge, a trainee (A born telepath, she's able to read about half the people she encounters and can coax memories from a willing person. She also has a strong shield), and Dante Swann, trainee (A reluctant medium with very strong shields. Though he has had his abilities for a number of years, he has yet to come to terms with them, however, he really enjoys the puzzles of investigative work.)
When they arrive, the FBI team go and investigate the sites and discover that the time problem is nothing supernatural, but rather energy bubbles that have spilled over from the kidnapper who used too much psychic power, because he lacked training, when he took his victims. A psychic cannot leave their shields up at all times, or they will collapse at some point from exhaustion at holding them up. When the FBI team and Jonah and Sarah are meeting that night around the table, Robbie has a small window open. The kidnapper uses it to slip inside her mind and play around inside of it. He tries to control her mind, but she is way too strong for that, so instead, he rearranges her memories. She realizes what is going on and yanks herself out, but overdoes it and her "mind" ends up on the street outside the police station. Suddenly she sees a shadow stumble forward clutching their throat and fall over. She knows that he is there and jumps back out again to find everyone in the room looking at her. When she explains what happened, her fellow agents are shocked, because her shields are so strong, no one can get in, so how did he? When they go outside to see if what she saw really happened, they discover the body of a deputy, who had gone out, unarmed, to get dinner, and ran into the kidnapper who sliced her throat. Quickly, Sam leans down and grabs her head, having Luke hold on to her in order to grab her, in case she goes to far, and she enters the deputy's dying mind to see her last thoughts. Apparently, the deputy had seen or heard something that was bothering her about the case, but Sam was unable to grasp onto what it was before she died and took Sam with her.
The kidnapper is obsessed with Robbie, because her ability is similar to his and he wants to understand more about his ability. He also thinks she can help him in some way. The agents and deputies go over the victimologies, but its hard in a small town. They are all bound to have many things in common, so its hard to figure out, just what it is that the kidnapper wants with them. The kidnapper, meanwhile, continues to find ways to attack the group and bring them down, which only seems to make them more determined to catch him and destroy him. Jonah is having a really hard time with this, because the people taken are his responsibility as chief and nothing seems able to work to stop this monster. Then the monster sets a trap for them and things go horribly wrong after that.
I highly recommend this series. Its gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seats suspense that will have you flying quickly through the pages. The characters are very real and you come to care about them. They aren't superheroes. They're people who are stuck with these abilities, for better or worse, and have decided to try to learn to use them to help others. Its not your typical book with psychic characters. Their abilities are secondary. They do, however, hunt down the true monsters out there, usually the ones who also have some kind of psychic ability themselves. They solve their cases through good old fashioned police work. Sometimes their abilities are able to help them with this, especially when they have to defend themselves against evil. I could say that this book is rather unique among her other books, but really, they are all unique in their own way. She never repeats herself and each book in the series is fresh and never "the same old thing". I really did enjoy this book, and as usual, want to start all over again so I can relive the old stories and remember everything from the beginning, including the backstories of the characters in this book, that I cannot quite remember, considering at least one of them was a very, very long time ago. This is very much worth a read.
Postscript: When I first started reading this book and Deputy Sarah Waters name came up, but wasn't in the back of the book, I began wracking my brain to figure out what book she was in, because the name was so familiar. Then it hit me: It was the name Julia Robert's character took after she fakes her death and leaves her abusive husband in Sleeping With the Enemy. Do not ask how on earth I know that. I haven't seen that movie in over ten years. Some things just come to me and I do not know why. I do wonder if Kay Hooper knows that, though.
She glanced at the old leather couch across the room from his desk. “That wasn’t sleep, that was time on a medieval torture devise. Unless you confessed you’re a heretic, it was useless time.”
--Kay Hooper (Fear the Dark p 31)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fear-Dark-Bishop-SCU-Novel/dp/0515156035/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476452006&sr=8-1&keywords=Fear+the+dark
I’ve seen men in coffins look better than you.
-Kay Hooper (Fear the Dark p 32)