Footprints of a Dancer by Bob Avey is actually fourth in a series of Detective Elliot mysteries. Yet, the reader who has not read the first three novels will have no problem comprehending Elliot’s life and actions. Indeed, after reading this installment, the reader will be inclined to acquire the previous ones. Throughout the entire book, Avery spins a mystery so elaborate that it is almost impossible to gauge how the tale will end.
The story begins with Elliot taking an evening jog. Thinking he will be alone on the trails, he is surprised to find that a woman is running towards him, even more so because she is an old friend by the name of Laura who went missing years ago. To make matters even more bizarre, another old friend calls to tell Elliot that he has seen Laura as well, directly after she disappears on the trails. Elliot agrees to meet with Gerald, as there is something strange occurring, but when Elliot shows at the meeting place Gerald is gone, and no one knows where he went. Suddenly, Elliot is on the trail of two missing friends that he believes have been murdered. By who, he has no clue.
To make matters more complicated, there seems to be a supernatural aspect to the case. Something to do with an obsidian knife of unknown origins. Moreover, Elliot begins having visions, as well as experiencing fluctuations in time. Is Elliot going insane from the stress of being a cop and looking for old friends or is there something sinister at work? The reader must follow Elliot to the very end to find out the answer, along the multiple twists and turns and inexplicable events.
Avery spins an intricate mystery that the reader will enjoy, especially one who attempts to crack the case as it is happening. Every step of the way, the evidence is so detailed that it feels as if the reader is standing right beside Elliot. This is not one of those mysteries where the outcome is foreseeable; there are so many suspects along the way that the reader is thrown off the trail up until the very end. There are even times when the reader feels they have escaped the confines of time along with Elliot himself. As a detective novel, Footprints of a Dancer does not disappoint.
Dark Passage is classified as a paranormal thriller and it definitely lives up to the hype; be warned, this novel contains images so chilling that it may keep some readers up at night, squinting into the dark corners of the bedroom, searching for signs of grotesque creatures…
The first chapter is a vague yet poignant look into the past. An unnamed boy is alone in a house that is clearly run by a mother with OCD. The reader learns from snippets of the boy’s thoughts that his mother is a germaphobe who is also abusive. She uses the idea that there is a monster living in the room at the end of the hall to terrify her son into obedience.
The book then switches to the present where the reader meets Tyson Barrett. Tyson has insomnia and has not slept in six months. He is about to join a clinical drug trial for Noxil, which treats PTSD and is supposed to stop his nightmares so that he can sleep for longer than a few minutes at a time. The next chapter switches to another narrator, Dr. Hunter, who has just begun at Sunnybrook Asylum. Dr. Hunter learns that on the 8th floor, which is reserved for patients who have committed violent crimes, lays Brenda Barrett. Brenda has fallen into a coma, but shows unusually high brain activity.
The reader is left wondering how all of these characters relate to each other. When Brenda seems to speak to Dr. Hunter even in her comatose state and when things start appearing from out of Tyson’s dreams, the situation just becomes creepy and the reader cannot help but read on in hopes that the mystery will be solved and the nightmares that are bound to appear will be vanquished.
From the beginning, Hayes captures the reader’s attention with the image of a terrified boy and the terror does not stop there. Page after page, the past is pieced together and the future becomes more and more frightening and uncertain. At times, it may seem as if Hayes is falling back on psychological horror story stereotypes, such as a traumatized boy losing his mind. But this is not the case. Readers will not be disappointed in the ending; the nightmare lasts right up until the very last page.
Force of Nature is classified as a paranormal romance. The book opens with Markey Neville enjoying the breath-taking fall scenery in Roanoke, New York. Here is a woman who seems to be at peace with her surroundings. Immediately, the reader is jolted out of this calm and beautiful space by a disturbing flashback from Markey’s past. Three years before the book begins, Markey and two friends were attacked by gang members in a dark alley during a night out. Through the flashback, the reader learns that Markey has the ability to manipulate the air and she fuels this ability with anger. Even though she saves her friends from harm, they call her a freak. It is because of this incident that Markey has moved to Roanoke to start fresh. Markey’s peace does not last long, however. During a trip to the bank to cash her first check at her new job, the bank she has chosen gets robbed. Markey tries her best not to lose control, but the bank robbers’ brutal treatment of an old man and a young mother creates an anger so intense that the power physically hurts to keep contained.
Enter Trip Lindaur who steps into the center of Markey’s hurricane and helps her gain control of her power and direct it for the first time. Afterward, Trip takes Markey home and watches out for her. He is the first person not to call her a freak, but a “force of nature.” Trip tells Markey that he knows someone who can help her gain control of her gift and takes her to Thorton and his side-kick Jesse who perform their work in a large white building surrounded by a razor-wire fence. Trip is leery about leaving Markey alone, but he promises himself he will return to check on her…
From the very beginning, Robin Leigh Miller creates action-packed suspense and this intensity does not let up until the very last page. The book is a fantastic blend of paranormal action and romance; the romantic interactions do not detract from the suspense, but rather accentuate the urgency and terror for both characters when they are faced with their separate demons. From start to finish, this book will not disappoint!
Force of Nature
Robin Leigh Miller