STARRED REVIEW
January 31, 2015

Potential dangers under her own roof

By Becky Masterman
Review by

Don’t look for a boilerplate story or predictable characters in Becky Masterman’s surprising second mystery, Fear the Darkness. There’s no letdown after Masterman’s first book, the Edgar Award finalist Rage Against the Dying. Her extraordinary heroine, 59-year-old FBI retiree Brigid Quinn, is front and center for a second time in this surprising thriller.

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Don’t look for a boilerplate story or predictable characters in Becky Masterman’s surprising second mystery, Fear the Darkness. There’s no letdown after Masterman’s first book, the Edgar Award finalist Rage Against the Dying. Her extraordinary heroine, 59-year-old FBI retiree Brigid Quinn, is front and center for a second time in this surprising thriller.

Who knew that all Quinn’s job-related physical and mental skills would be called into play in her life as a newlywed, as she and hubby Carlos, a priest-turned-philosophy-professor, start to enjoy their days together in sunny Tucson? As a former agent who’s lived a very private and secretive life in many different identities, Quinn is slowly adjusting to being a new wife and to making real friends for the first time. She’s shopping, gossiping, enjoying a glass of wine with new friend Mallory, hiking and attending church socials and local events.

But there are threats in the most unexpected places and hiding just below the surface in the most unlikely people. After her sister-in-law dies following a long illness, Quinn fulfills a promise by taking in her 17-year-old niece, Gemma-Kate. The girl seems oddly unemotional and occasionally disconnected, causing Quinn to wonder whether Gemma-Kate is involved in the odd occurrences that begin to crop up.

The book’s multilayered characters continue to offer surprises, including Mallory’s bedridden husband, Owen, paralyzed in an accident and unable to speak; and Owen’s doctor, Tim Neilsen, and his wan, lost-looking wife, Jacquie. There’s an added sense of menace when she agrees to look into the strange death of the Neilsens’ son, after she picks up a piece of paper on which Jacquie has secretly scribbled “Help me.”

As Quinn’s unease mounts, she begins to wonder whom she can trust. This story thrives on the unexpected and unforeseen, and as tension builds, readers can expect a plot that morphs into something bigger than a curious death or two. There’s something to boggle the mind on nearly every page and a death-defying scene near the finale that’ll curl your hair. The monsters in the shadows—the ones we thought were completely exaggerated—are only too real.

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Fear the Darkness

Fear the Darkness

By Becky Masterman
Minotaur
ISBN 9780312622954

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