"Kay Hooper is a master at crafting a spooky ambiance"
Reviewed by Debbie Wiley
Posted October 15, 2015
Suspense | Romance Suspense | Paranormal Mystery
People are disappearing with nary a trace in Serenity,
Tennessee. First, it was adults that simply vanished while
outside, but now a child has disappeared from her own
home. Chief Jonah Riggs
suspect something more sinister is occurring and requests
the assistance of the FBI Special Crimes Unit (SCU). Noah
Bishop, head of the SCU, sends in experienced agents
Lucas and Samantha Jordan along with a new partnership
of Dante Swann and Robbie Hodge. Each agent has their own
unique abilities, including clairvoyance, telepathy, a
medium, and a gift for finding the lost.
FEAR THE DARK is the sixteenth book in the
Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series but can easily
be read as a standalone. We get to meet various agents in
the different books rather than sticking to just a few
individuals and so it's easy to just jump right into the
series. Kay Hooper also provides a list of all of the
agents as well as their abilities at the end of the book,
which is quite helpful at refreshing one's memory as to
all the characters we have met over the course of the
series. However, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't
want to read all of the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit
books as every book by Kay Hooper is a guaranteed treat.
I love how Kay Hooper shows the camaraderie that exists
(or builds, in the case of new partners) in the SCU. Each
agent is respectful of both the strengths and weaknesses
of each of their abilities, while also conducting
solid police work. FEAR THE DARK showcases how the
various abilities work hand in hand with old-fashioned
detective work as I love seeing the blending of the two.
While I love all the agents we meet in FEAR THE DARK, I
can't help but hope that we'll see more of Jonah in
Kay Hooper is a master at crafting a spooky ambiance and
wrapping a phenomenal mystery inside of it. FEAR THE DARK
is one of my favorite books out of Kay Hooper's more
recent releases. I love the eerie mystery, almost like a
locked door mystery in reverse, as we wonder how the
kidnapper is getting his victims to just vanish. If you
like supernatural mysteries or thrillers, then FEAR THE
DARK is a must-read!
In this newest Bishop / Special Crimes Unit novel, an SCU
team investigates a troubling string of disappearances.
But how do you find someone who has vanished without a
Something strange is happening in the small mountain town
of Serenity, Tennessee. People going on routine errands
never reach their destination. It’s as if they simply
disappear. Over the past few weeks, it’s happened to five
men and women—and now a child.
The local police chief Jonah Riggs calls the FBI, and a
team from the Special Crimes Unit is immediately sent in.
Agents Lucas and Samantha Jordan, partners in work and in
life, have very different abilities. Samantha is a
powerful clairvoyant and Lucas possesses a unique ability
to find the lost or abducted. With them are new partners
Dante Swann, a medium, and Robbie Hodge, a telepath.
The town is already on the edge of panic, but the
mysterious events take a sinister turn when a body
unrelated to the missing persons case surfaces, a citizen
murdered under the noses of the police and FBI agents.
Now, the team’s hunt for the lost has turned into
something very personal for all of them … and very
Even barely awake, Jonah Riggs groaned as the phone on
his nightstand shrilled a demand. He was tangled in the
covers as usual, but managed to maneuver himself over far
enough to grab the phone and shut it up.
Lying back with his eyes closed, he muttered, “It better
be good.” He had gotten to bed somewhere near dawn after
winning enormous imaginary sums at the monthly poker game
the city fathers would have frowned upon – had they not
been his opponents.
He didn’t know what time it was, but his aching head and
scratchy eyes said it was too damned early.
“Sorry, Chief, but there’s something you need to see.”
Sarah Waters didn’t sound all that sorry, but she was his
lead detective, and since she and his younger sister had
played together in the sandbox, he was only mildly
surprised she didn’t offer a more colorful and less
“It’s Saturday, Sarah. My day off. My first day off in
three damned weeks. Can’t you handle it?”
“No,” she said simply.
That woke him up, because in her whole life, he’d never
seen anything Sarah couldn’t handle.
He fought free of the covers and sat on the edge of his
bed, running his fingers through his hair. He needed a
haircut. “What’s going on?” he asked her.
She hesitated, then said, “It’ll be easier if you just
come see for yourself. Honest, Jonah, I wouldn’t call
you out here if I didn’t think it was important.”
He knew that. “Out where?”
“North side of town, off Main and about a hundred yards
That was actually the name of the street. Street. Jonah
had wondered more than once if they’d just run out of
names, or if somebody had been having fun and it just
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll be there in fifteen. Oh – Sarah?
Are we talking about an actual crime?”
“I’m not quite sure,” she replied.
He found that somewhat baffling, but didn’t waste time
with more questions. “Okay, you know the drill. Keep
everybody back away from whatever it is until I get
Jonah hung up the phone, frowning, and headed for the
shower, hoping enough hot water would clear his head.
Because so far, this was hardly a normal Saturday
It got stranger.
Jonah seldom wore a uniform, virtually always in jeans,
clipping his badge to his belt near the front, wearing
his gun on his right hip, and depending on the weather,
either a sweatshirt under a light windbreaker or else a
This Saturday morning in May was cool but comfortable,
the middle-of-the-night rainstorm hours past. But it was
also supposed to be an off day for Jonah, so he wore a
sweatshirt with the faded letters of Duke University
across his chest.
He had stopped at a coffee shop in town and swallowed
some aspirin, but his head didn’t feel any better when he
stopped his Jeep behind Sarah’s cruiser and got out to
She was leaning against the front of her cruiser,
frowning at another Jeep, this one pulled more or less
off the road, with both front doors standing open.
Jonah didn’t see another soul about. Clearly, Sarah had
decided against calling the station, for whatever reason.
It wasn’t a large police station or police force, and it
was rare to see more than one officer or detective out on
“Isn’t that Simon Church’s Jeep?” he asked as he reached
“Yeah. I checked the registration and tag to be sure.”
“So where is he?”
“The question of the day.” Sarah eyed him. “You up for
He grunted. “Depends on what this is. You gonna tell
me, or shall I figure it out for myself?”
Unsmiling, she said, “Take a look inside the Jeep.”
Jonah didn’t argue, just moved forward, sticking to the
paved road side of the Jeep. He had already noted there
were no skid marks, and no sign that the vehicle had been
forced off the road. All four tires seemed fine.
He looked in the front passenger door, and a nameless
dread began to crawl up his spine. The vehicle was
packed with stuff. Not stuff one would expect if a
robbery had been committed – despite the flatscreen TV.
Packed in tight in the back were clothes, shoes, luggage
presumably holding more of the same and ... things.
A stuffed bear sat atop a stack of books, squeezed in
beside a golf bag. There was a basket holding an odd
assortment of things that included a dog’s collar and
leash, a can of WD-40, a laptop and tangle of cords and
cables, a case holding CDs or DVDs, and a teapot.
Shirts and dresses and sweaters still on hangers were
laid across luggage probably filled with the same sort of
thing. There was what looked like a little sewing kit
sitting atop a tackle box. There was a cooler of the
sort most people used to transport adult beverages.
There was another stuffed animal, this one a puffy cat,
sitting atop a goldfish bowl where one lone fish swam
rather desperately around in his shallow world.
Still bent forward and still without touching the car,
Jonah turned his gaze to the front seat. Not much on the
driver’s side. A little open change niche filled with
coins and gum wrappers and at least two petrified French
On the passenger seat, very neatly in the center, sat a
purse decorated all over with beads and fake gems. It
was very colorful.
Jonah straightened and looked back at Sarah. “You
checked the purse?”
“Yeah. Amy Grimes. Her driver’s license is in a wallet
that contains, I’m guessing, a few thousand dollars. I
didn’t want to disturb anything even with gloves, until
you saw it all.”
Jonah frowned at the Jeep another moment, then returned
his gaze to Sarah. “All the earmarks of an elopement.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought..”
“Well, they didn’t get very far, that’s one thing. I’m
guessing Amy sneaked out of her house sometime after
midnight; even at a crawl, they should have reached the
highway before dawn.”
Jonah glanced back toward town and silently agreed with
her. Hell, even if they’d left at dawn, they should have
“Gas? They broke down?”
“Key’s in the ignition, as you see. I cranked it up.
Tank’s full, and the engine seemed to be running fine.”
Jonah looked over the inside once again, then walked back
along the Jeep until he reached the bumper. He lifted
his brows at his lead detective. “Both doors found
open.” It wasn’t a question. “Pulled mostly off the
road. A purse with money. Valuables in the back. And
the key in the ignition making it easy for somebody to
steal the whole shebang.”
Sarah nodded. “Now we come to the very weird part.”
“Now we come to it?”
“Yeah.” She stepped over onto the grassy verge and led
the way just as far as the open driver’s side door.
“Look down there.”
There was no guard rail here, and the bank on the side of
the road sloped gradually down to a flat area; from that,
a vague path led toward a stand of trees while another
vague path led off to the left, toward a distant creek.
Neither of the paths were well-traveled, just handy
shortcuts, mostly for kids.
But right now both the bank and the flat area were more
dirt than grass. Mud, since the rainstorm hours before.
Very clearly, two sets of footprints were visible going
down the bank and to the flat area. One larger set,
probably boots; one much smaller set, undoubtedly a woman
The prints were absolutely perfect, showing no slipping
or sliding. The bootprints and shoeprints were side by
side down the bank, to the flat. Where they stopped.
Where they just ... stopped.
That wordless dread was growing in Jonah. “You’ve been
“Yeah. I stayed away from the prints, circled. There’s
nothing, Jonah. And there should be. All around the
place where the prints stop, there would have been prints
if they’d gone on. There’s no way they could have jumped
far enough, and no sign at all they did. No sign of a
vehicle, no sign of a horse. No sign of a third person.”
She drew a breath and let it out slowly. “If this is a
prank, it’s a damned good one. But I don’t think it’s a
prank. I think those two kids walked down that bank to
the flat area — and something happened.”
“Something took them,” he said slowly.
Sarah nodded. “That’s the only thing I could think of.
It’s like something just swooped down and carried them
away. And judging by the footprints, they had to be
lifted cleanly, straight up. No sign of a struggle. No
sign of a fight. There are houses close enough to hear
if someone had screamed. Even in the middle of the
night.” Without turning, she jerked her head back and
toward the other side of the road. “Mildred Bates is
watching us from her front porch now; she sleeps with her
windows open and the slightest sound wakes her. Her
bedroom windows face this way. If there had been any
kind of a commotion, she would have heard – and called
us. She didn’t.”
“So, where are those kids?” Jonah said slowly. “And how
the hell did they just ... vanish?”
Jonah didn’t voice what he felt, that what they were
looking at was not exactly an ending – but the beginning
of something. The beginning of something bad. The
beginning of something that was going to shake his town
to its foundations.
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Kay Hooper is a master at crafting a spooky ambiance
I loved the book. I agree with the reviewer. I cannot wait for the next one!!
(E. L. Davis 10:39am November 6, 2015)
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