Thursday, April 12, 2018

ARC Review: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope

Whispers of the Dead
Author: Spencer Kope
Series: Special Tracking Unit (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (April 17, 2018)

Description: A series of bizarre murders―the victims nearly unidentifiable―forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.

There has been a murder, but not only is the identity of the victim unknown, most of the body itself is missing. All that’s been found is a pair of feet, stored in a portable cooler, and left in the house of a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas. The killer apparently broke into the judge’s house, left his grizzly message, and disappeared without a trace. With no clues as to the killer, the person killed, or the intent behind the cooler, all the authorities really know is that this likely isn’t the killer’s first―or his last―victim.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is an FBI agent and an elite tracker, easily the best in the world. Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. As part of the three-man special team, FBI’s Special Tracking Unit (STU), he is called in on cases where his skills are indispensable. But there’s a secret to his skill. Steps has a kind of synesthesia, an ability that allows him to see whatever each particular person has touched in a unique color―what Steps calls ‘shine.’ His ability is known to only a few people―his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

While the Special Tracking Unit tries to grapple with the gruesome scene in El Paso, they soon discover another, earlier victim. Once again, only the feet―in a disposable icebox―were left behind. With almost no clues besides the body parts, Steps and his team find themselves enmeshed in the most difficult case of their careers. And The Icebox Killer has only just begun.

My Thoughts: The latest case for Steps Craig and his partner Jimmy Donovan is a puzzler. They are called to El Paso because a Federal Judge has found a cooler with feet in it in his living room. Steps sees everyone in different colors which is very helpful in his investigations but needs to be kept secret. He can use his ability to see the shine of a killer and, by seeing the shine on multiple victims, know if the killer is a serial killer. However, his ability isn't evidence that can lead to a court conviction so he and his partner need to find conventional evidence too.

The first pair of feet leads to another pair of feet this time in the home of a defense attorney. Steps and Jimmy spend a lot of time on their Gulfstream jet traveling between crime sites. Their office assistant Diane holds down the fort at their home location in Washington State and is a computer guru who tracks down all sorts of evidence for them from State and Federal databases. Very few people know about Steps's special ability and Diane isn't one of them though she is getting suspicious.

Despite Steps's special ability which can only be muted by special lead crystal glasses and which causes massive headaches, Jimmy and Steps still need to do the ordinary police work of knocking on doors and traveling up and down I-10 from Texas to Albuquerque to follow the path of the killer they have nicknamed the Ice Box Killer.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the friendship between Steps and Jimmy and the way they work so well together. I also liked seeing Steps's relationship with journalist Heather growing. I thought the fact that he wrote her letters was romantic. I also liked that he felt that it was time to tell her about his special ability but couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

The writing was engaging as it was told by Steps who has a number of interesting personality quirks. The action was fast-paced. The mystery itself was nicely done with clues and motives gradually revealed. I recommend this series. Start with COLLECTING THE DEAD to get the whole story but this one does stand alone quite well.

Favorite Quote:
I'm not interested in the ice box; I'm keeping my distance. Styrofoam freaks me out. I don't know why, it just does. I have issues, okay?

The only thing that freaks me out as much as Styrofoam is your standard everyday forest. Anytime large numbers of deciduous and evergreen trees start milling about together, you know it can't end well.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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