Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: HUNTED by Elizabeth Heiter

Terror stalks a small Virginia town. 

FBI rising star, criminal profiler Evelyn Baine, knows how to think like a serial killer. But she's never chased anyone like the Bakersville Burier, who hunts young women and displays them, half-buried, deep in the woods. As the body count climbs, Evelyn's relentless pursuit of the killer puts her career - and her life - at risk. And the evil lurking in the Burier's mind may be more than even she can unravel.

Terror is closer than she thinks. 

The Bakersville Burier knows he's got an FBI profiler on his trail. He knows who she is and where to find her. And he's biding his time because he's planned a special punishment for Evelyn. She may have tracked other killers, but he vows to make this her last chase. This time it's her turn to be hunted!

HUNTED was narrated in a very straight forward manner. A serial killer is preying on women. The gruesome display of his prey meant he is highly organized and intelligent. The local police are stretched to its limits in trying to catch him, and FBI assistance is badly needed. 

Our protagonist is Special Agent Evelyn Baine, a profiler assigned in the Behavioral Analysis Unit in Virginia.  She has always dreamt of getting this job.   When she was a young girl, her best friend Cassie was abducted and was never found ever again. This experience and her repressed emotions after having an unsuccessful relationship drove her to be the best she wanted to be, unfeeling, and determined.

This book suffers from the usual debut dilemma; authors sometimes gear their debut enthusiasm in the not so engaging direction.  (1) I've always believed that for a mystery/ thriller series to succeed the protagonist must have a good relationship with the reader.  The reader should have a good latch on the hero, going through with him/her in every challenge, rooting for him/her to thrive. However, Evelyn Baine was fleshed out oddly in this story.  Voicing out the notion that she is the best in her field was so redundant, I no longer felt any empathy for her. (2) The writing style was fussy in a way that diminishes the thrill, making the narrative more dramatic than it needs to be.  (3) Info dumping. The author doesn’t give the reader a chance to work on some of the information needed. Instead of interweaving particular information, she gets to explain them.

Even with my ruminations above, the story does have some really good points. (1) If you get through all the fuss, there is a very interesting plot.  Ms. Heiter was successful in keeping my interest and looking forward to how the much-awaited ending will be executed. (2) The enigma surrounding the antagonist was strong. I wish there were more from his POV.  (3) Given how I criticize the character of the protagonist, I like how Ms. Heiter built her secondary characters. Their diversity was interesting. I hope to see more of them in the next installment.

Yes, in spite of my lukewarm reception of the Hunted, I’ll be looking forward to the next book. So, Godspeed Ms. Elizabeth Heiter.

Book detail:
Title:  Hunted
Author:  Elizabeth Heiter
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication date: December 31, 2013
Series: Book#1
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: ★★

*Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for giving me a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


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