Waking the Dead, by Kylie Brant

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010

TITLE: Waking the Dead
AUTHOR: Kylie Brant

COPYRIGHT: 2009
PAGES: 352
PUBLISHER: Berkley

SETTING: Contemporary US (Oregon)
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: 3rd in the Mindhunters series

REASON FOR READING: The review at AAR.

Former forensic anthropologist Caitlin Fleming knows bones. So the investigator is the first one called when seven sets of skeletal remains are found dumped in a makeshift graveyard in the Oregon wilderness. Each skeleton bears the same distinctive marks. And each is minus a skull.

Cait needs outdoors guide Zach Sharper for one reason only—to help her find her way through the Willamette Forest as she pieces together clues. Despite the attraction that burns between them, nothing will be allowed to shake her focus. Until the killer closes in to terminate the investigation…and the ones on the verge of unmasking him…
While checking out a remote cave for a potential client, outdoors guide Zach Sharper discovers several sets of human bones. The local sheriff, knowing when she's in over her head, immediately calls for help. Help comes in the form of Cait Fleming, forensic anthropologist, investigator with the highly-esteemed Mindhunters agency, and former super-model (yes, really).

Cait and her assistant soon establish that the bones are all relatively recent, and with the help of Zach (who's been roped in by the sheriff into showing Cait around the area) Cait immediately dives into the investigation.

Waking the Dead was an all right read, especially most of the suspense element (more later about that "most"). It's an intriguing case, with some fascinating details. I appreciated that for a mystery with such a strong forensic element, things didn't get too gorey. Also, the investigation was well done. The police are smart, and work well with Cait, and they all go about their business quite intelligently. I especially liked Cait's assistant, Kristie, the elf-lookalike with a mouth like a sailor.

We get into the villain's head a few times -not a favourite of mine, this, but those scenes were actually well done. Creepy, but not disgusting, and ambiguous enough that I was never quite sure of exactly what was going on. The only false step here is that Brant is a bit too obviously coy about something when writing these scenes, and that only served to focus my attention on this element, and guess why she was doing this. Consequently, something that was supposed to be a big shock near the end didn't shock me in the least.

So why did I say that only most of the suspense worked for me? Mainly because there was absolutely no way we readers could have guessed the identity of the villain. There just wasn't anything there we could have used to even suspect there was something wrong, I'm afraid, with the result that the conclusion felt a bit out of the blue.

The romance wasn't the most compelling I've ever read. I thought Cait was a good character, and I liked her. The whole "former supermodel" angle never completely gelled for me, and it felt a bit unnecessary, but I really liked that she was sensible and tough and not at all prone to stupid behaviour. She was also perfectly willing and able to get Zach to cut the crap when he was been particularly rude.

And unfortunately, she has to, and often, possibly the reason why I never completely got the romance. Zach I liked a lot less. He immediately prejudges Cait because he recognises her, and never completely recovers from that. Quite a few times I wondered exactly what his problem was, as he was gratuitously rude and stupid.

By the end of the book things had improved somewhat, but I never really felt like their relationshiop was anything more than a hot affair. I saw no connection other than the sex, and that does not a great romance make, does it?

MY GRADE: A B-.

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