Cold Sight, by Leslie Parrish

>> Thursday, February 03, 2011

TITLE: Cold Sight
AUTHOR: Leslie Parrish

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Paranormal romantic suspense
SERIES: Book 1 in the Extrasensory Agents series.

REASON FOR READING: I liked Leslie Parrish's Black CATs series enough to put her on my autobuy list.

Leslie Parrish introduces Extrasensory Agents, a band of psychic investigators interested only in the cases nobody else wants-the coldest ones...

After being made a scapegoat in a botched investigation that led to a child's death, Aidan McConnell became a recluse. Still, as a favor to an old friend, Aidan will help on the occasional ESA case.

Reporter Lexie Nolan has a nose for news-and she believes a serial killer has been targeting teen girls around Savannah, but no one believes her. So she turns to the new paranormal detective agency and the sexy, mysterious Aidan for help. But just as the two begin forging a relationship, the case turns eerily personal for Lexie-and Aidan discovers that maybe he hasn't lost the ability to feel after all.
Something's rotten in the small town of Granville, Georgia, but it seems reporter Lexie Nolan is the only one who's noticed. Teenagers from the poor part of town have been disappearing with alarming regularity, but the good ole boy sheriff refuses to take it seriously. As far as he's concerned, they're all runaways, and when Lexie publishes an expose, he comes out swinging and destroys her credibility. And it doesn't help that the owner of the paper refuses to back Lexie and leans on her just as strongly to publish a retraction, not to mention moves her to covering fluff pieces.

Lexie is not going to give up, though, especially when another girl disappears. Out of any other options, she approaches reclusive new Granville resident Aidan McConnell.

Aidan's is currently just as reviled by the general public as Lexie. He spent years helping the police with his psychic powers until he got it wrong in a particular case. The missing child he was looking for died, and the parents blamed him. The relentless media coverage left him with a distrust for reporters, so he's initially not at all inclined to listen to Lexie when she comes seeking his help. However, he has accidentally already connected with the missing girl, so he and Lexie end up joining forces.

Cold Sight hit the spot exactly. I felt like reading romantic suspense that was on the dark side, and this definitely was that. It was also fresh and excellently done.

One of the things that impresses me about Leslie Parrish's books is the way she integrates the suspense and the romance, and in this book, the paranormal as well. Thinking back, it's not like Aidan spent the entire book using his powers, but it was explained to us exactly how they worked, and he used them in a very reasonable way, at the times when it would have made sense for him to use them. What often frustrates me about books with psychic characters is that too many authors have them seemingly forget they have powers when they want to move the plot in a certain direction. Not Parrish.

I was actually slightly surprised I enjoyed this so much, because the small town where everyone, including the people you would go to for help, is corrupt is not one of my favourite settings (this reminded me of my least favourite Karen Rose books, in that sense). It worked here, though. Because everyone was corrupt, it made perfect sense that Lexie and Aidan would have to investigate on their own, and to be fair to them, they did bring in reinforcements and use them as soon as they could, not to mention cooperate with the cops when it looked like it was a good idea.

Something else I liked that I often don't was the introduction of the characters who'll star in the rest of the series, the members of the paranormal investigations detective agency who come and join Aidan and Lexie halfway through the book. They each have very individual paranormal powers that would come very useful in murder investigations, and use them exactly as they should, in a way that felt organic to the plot and which, while it made me want to read the upcoming books, didn't strike me as sequel baiting.

We spend quite a bit of time with Vonnie, the latest missing girl, and her captor, and some of those scenes aren't easy. But Vonnie is a fantastic character, one I rooted for wholeheartedly and I cared passionately about whether she would survive. Parrish pulls no punches, though, and while obviously, I won't reveal Vonnie's fate, it's important to know before starting to read this that very bad things happen in this hellish small town.

And that's something else, I quite liked the fact that while both Lexie and, to a lesser extent, Aidan, think Granville is hell on earth, we get the feeling from the author that they aren't being quite fair, and they finally do accept that it's a town where very bad things happen, but also where good people live. They do not want to stay there at all, though, and that's perfectly acceptable.

What keeps this from a keeper grade is the romance. It's not bad at all, but I cared a lot more about the murders than I did about Lexie and Aidan. They're nice enough, but didn't really capture my imagination. With such a strong suspense and paranormal element, though, I didn't much care.

MY GRADE: A very strong B+.


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