Fear the Darkness

Becky Masterman (Rage Against the Dying) follows up her first Brigid Quinn adventure with a thriller that pits the 59-year-old ex-FBI agent against a sly killer in a case complicated by family ties. Readers last met Brigid as she dealt with the loose ends of her past; this time, her future hangs in the balance.

When Brigid's beloved sister-in-law dies after a long illness, Brigid and her husband return from the funeral with unusual cargo: Gemma-Kate Quinn, their 17-year-old niece. Although her father, Brigid's brother, is still very much involved in Gemma-Kate's life, a move to Tucson will allow the brilliant girl to study biology at the University of Arizona without paying out-of-state tuition.

While she helps her niece settle in, Brigid also agrees to investigate the apparent suicide of a teenager whose parents attend her church. She intends to help the dead boy's mother find peace by allaying any suspicions of foul play but soon questions the circumstances of his drowning. Her attention is diverted when one of her pugs is poisoned and Brigid herself starts experiencing strange symptoms. As peculiar incidents multiply, it seems that Gemma-Kate might be the common link, and Brigid wonders if her niece's sweet smile masks a cold-blooded secret.

Masterman riffs on fears of disease and mortality while delving into the rocky landscape of family dynamics. Gifted at laying false trails and establishing multiple threads of possibility, Masterman pulls off a surprise ending with virtuoso-level skill. Feisty and multilayered, Brigid is an admirable if unlikely heroine readers will look forward to seeing again. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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