Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: The Unholy by Heather Graham

Title: The Unholy (Krewe of Hunters)
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 06/26/2012
ISBN: 0778313492

I'll admit that I've been disappointed with the Krewe of Hunters series as of late. It's not that they're particularly bad as much as they've just been too similar to one another, which makes it hard to really see each one as an individual piece. Graham tries to break out of that mold slightly in this volume and while she does succeed in making it more unique than the previous novel (The Unseen), it still feels like it could have been slightly fresher.

A Hollywood shrine hides unholy deeds.   

The 1940s: Hard-boiled detectives and femmes fatale are box-office gold. In one iconic scene, set in a deserted museum, the private eye arrives too late, and the buxom beauty is throttled by an ominous Egyptian priest. 

Now: The Black Box Cinema immortalizes Hollywood's Golden Age in its gallery of film noir tributes. But the mannequin of that Egyptian priest is hardly lifeless. He walks-and a young starlet dies a terrifying death. 

Movie mogul Eddie Archer's son is charged with the grisly murder. Eddie calls agent Sean Cameron, who specializes in...irregular investigations. As part of an FBI paranormal forensics team, Cameron knows that nightmares aren't limited to the silver screen. 

 Working with special-effects artist Madison Darvil-who has her own otherworldly gifts-Cameron delves into the malevolent force animating more than one movie monster....

There were things that I liked as well as disliked about this book. I loved the idea of setting the book during a movie remake and bringing in elements from the golden age of Hollywood, as that was a time period when secrets were readily covered up by production companies and gossip could run even hotter than it does now. The book starts off nicely and sets the scene well, with the character of Madison having just enough introduction to make her sparkle. The addition of Bogie as the ghost did make me raise an eyebrow since it seemed like he was there more to up the "old Hollywood" feel, but it's done decently enough to where it doesn't really matter. I can't help but wish that perhaps it'd been a non-famous ghost that Graham had made up herself, as that would've allowed her to do more with the character.

The pacing is decently done for the most of the book, but unfortunately where it comes apart is in the ending. I felt like the ending was just too rushed and was sort of just tacked on, with not enough buildup to give it a nice punch. I can't entirely explain it without being spoilerish, but it felt both predictable and "huh?" at the same time, as the whodunit had me flipping through the book to remind myself of the characters. It's good that it was someone I wasn't predicting, but I would've liked a bit more buildup.

Overall this wasn't bad and it's better than some of the other books in the KoH series, but this just sort of seems to suggest to me that perhaps it's time to finish up this series so Graham can focus on other projects. This is pretty much the same idea as the first four set of books for the original KoH, just with different characters, and I admit that I'd much rather see books that focus on the pre-existing couples than continually introduce umpteen new crews just to have new couplings. After a while it just becomes too overly familiar, and this is what ultimately does this book in: we've seen this before. It's good in that way that all of Graham's novels have that "sit on the beach and drink a cool beverage" sense of fun, but it's just a little too familiar and  some fans might just find themselves longing for something slightly different.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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