Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: The Unseen by Heather Graham

Title: The Unseen
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: 03/27/2012
ISBN: 0778313298

I'll give all of the long time Heather Graham fans a warning. The old Graham is probably never going to come back. I'd liken her older books to rich Godiva chocolate: rich and oh-so-sinfully bad for you, whereas her newer books are like Hershey chocolate: good, but not nearly as good as the Godiva was. This is pretty much the case here in this book.

1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found.

One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere…but her body was never recovered.

Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. All young women, all long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now. Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead. Among Logan’s new team is Kelsey O’Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to “see” the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance.

Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why. And if something more earthly is menacing the city’s oldest, darkest corners, only they can stop it – before more innocent women join the company of San Antonio’s restless ghosts….

I'll be honest and say that while this wasn't an "oh my gosh, read it until my eyeballs pop out" type of book, it wasn't bad and is an improvement over some of Graham's previous books. (This is far better than Dust to Dust was.) The Unseen is pretty much a continuation of the Krewe of Hunters series, but with a new group of characters since the previous bunch had all been paired off with their love interests. This book brings us a new pairing, a new murder mystery, and a new set of ghosts.

I really wanted to judge this book on its own merit (for good or bad), but some of the similarities between the pairing in this book and the pairing in the first KoH book sort of prevented that. Like our pairing in Phantom Evil, we're given two people in law enforcement, with the male love interest being a Native American. This is generally where the similarities ended, but it's enough to where I kind of felt a little disappointed that Graham didn't shake things up a little more. I'd have loved to have seen a pairing where one of the duo was a brash young thing that shoehorned their way into the investigation, but hopefully we'll get that in another book. The pairing in this book is nice, but didn't really set off an avalanche of steamy sparks. It's sort of just there and secondary to the book's mystery.

The mystery actually wasn't bad. I did enjoy the Texas setting as well as the inclusion of the infamous Alamo. We're given a good start, a tale of a star-crossed Southern belle that fell into a seedy lifestyle and was murdered because of her ill fated decisions and a valuable diamond ring. It's what really brought me into the book and pushed me past the tepid love scenes between Logan and Kelsey. It eventually turned a little predictable, but overall it wasn't half bad. I just wish that the mystery and murders had been played up a little more, with the main characters doing a little more detecting and investigating. Things just sort of progressed from point A to point B and it didn't really seem that our lead characters did anything on their own without a ghost to point the way for them. (Although if I can compare it to the mystery in the first KoH book, the mystery here is way better laid out.) I was still slightly surprised by the whodunit, although I wasn't too far off in my estimation.

Overall this is a good but not great Graham novel. It's something that is absolutely worth a library read, but I'd hesitate to buy this at a hardback price. (If it was paperback then it'd be easier to say "buy it".) Graham has shown some improvement as of late and this book is no exception, but I think this book would have done better if it had just spent a little more time in the stew pot.If you're looking for a whiz-banger of a read, you'll be disappointed, but if you're looking for a decent read to while away a few hours with in front of the fireplace, then this is worth checking out.

2.5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

1 comment:

  1. It's been years since I read a Heather Graham book. Every once in awhile I like to pick up a more "classic" author just to see how (and if) anything's changed. :)