NOTE: This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!
Phantom Evil by Heather Graham is the first novel in Graham’s paranormal mystery series, Krewe of Hunters. This one focuses on the mysterious death of a Louisiana senator’s wife and the unit of special investigators in charge of hunting down the truth. Each investigator has a different set of quirky skills that help when it comes to digging up a truth that most people wouldn’t believe, like murderous ghosts and the power of voodoo.
Before I dig in to the review, I have to admit that I gave up on this story about 100 pages in and didn’t finish it.
This book had so much potential before it tanked: the setting is the culture-rich French District in New Orleans, the plot revolves around a fabulously creepy ghost story, and the cast of characters is full of unique individuals with a wide array of impressive talents. Too bad all of these opportunities were squandered by disjointed writing and awkward character interactions…
My biggest issue was the writing. The vast majority of clauses were short and clipped, making for stilted language. There were also a lot of incomplete clauses. Those don’t normally bother me, but their abundance quickly drove me crazy. Here are a few gems. Mind you, these are direct quotes and full sentences as written from three different scenes:
Rising and falling, arcing and writhing, rolling and even laughing breathlessly, and finding the rhythm again.
“Whether they are voodooists, Jewish, Buddhists, Christian or whatever.”
“He was in the hallway, Trini told me. They saw a man, and then he disappeared. They didn’t tell Mrs. Halloway. She had said that she didn’t believe in ghosts.”
The characters were also stilted, partially due to the fact that the writing style and language never varied. As far as the romance goes, the two “Krewe” members involved hardly even seemed interested in each other by page 100. I know there is at least one explicit sex scene further in, so either that changes or the author forces them together. I did skim the scene because a few other reviewers were upset by it, and it read just as awkwardly as the rest of the story.
Of course, no one is perfect. I just wish Phantom Evil read less like it was written over the course of 48 hours without a single re-read.
The intriguing premise was enough to push my rating up to 1.5 stars, and I have to give props to Graham for coming up with such a compelling history about the serial killer and his victims. That and the synopsis are the only positive elements.
All of that being said, this series seems to have been very successful! 14 installments have been published since 2011, with 3 more expected to be released this year. There are obviously those who enjoy them; I am definitely not one of them.