Huntress Moon

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huntressmoon200Written by Alexandra Sokoloff — FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is a man on a mission. On the cusp of busting a major criminal organisation in San Francisco he witnesses the death of a team member working undercover on the case. It looks like an accident, the agent walking in front of a truck on a busy street. But something makes Roarke believe there’s more to it. He sees a mystery woman at the scene and believes she’s connected to the death somehow.

Roarke, with his colleague Damien Epps, begins to investigate and test his suspicions. He finds the woman was linked to a series of accidents and murders, but Roarke can’t understand the connection. It seems he’s on the trail of someone with a rare behavior – a female serial killer. She’s smart, well-organised and able to cover her tracks, but it also seems that she’s working to a schedule, but for what purpose?

The woman needs somewhere to hide for a couple of days and she stops at the coastal tourist town of Pismo Beach. Calling herself Leila French she befriends a father and son, both damaged after a recent, difficult divorce. As Roarke follows Leila across three states he uncovers the shocking truth of her true identity and background. He finally understands she is on a mission of her own, and must race to capture her before more blood is shed.

This is the first in the FBI Thrillers series, and what a start. Huntress Moon was nominated for an International Thriller Writers Thriller Award for best ebook in 2013. It didn’t win, Blind Faith by CJ Lyons took the prize, but this is a top drawer, highly intelligent and multi-faceted novel. It’s no longer just an ebook, it’s in print now as well, along with books two and three – Blood Moon and Cold Moon.

In terms of style Huntress Moon has a split narrative, switching between third person Roarke and first person Leila. For the first 75 pages or so Leila is simply she or her, no specific identity is revealed. However, what Sokoloff cleverly does is peel back the layers of the character’s psyche in an up close and personal manner. Rather than being a two-dimensional psychopathic killer we realise she’s damaged, that she wants to form personal relationships but struggles to, and even that there was a reason she’d killed (in a pretty grisly manner). The friendship Leila develops with the five year old boy is touching and when the big reveal is played out at the end it would be a cold hearted soul that wouldn’t be willing Leila on.

In parallel Roarke is learning to understand Leila too. In his own analytical fashion he reaches the same conclusion, his assessment of her shifts over time and so will yours. The Roarke sections are also characterised by an excellent level of detail around the investigative processes and procedures, the author portrays this understanding without making it laborious and an educational exercise. The two narratives together work exceedingly well in a ying and yang way. Here there’s definitely a sense of the whole being more than the parts alone. Strong characters, a well painted sense of place and thorough attention to detail make Huntress Moon much more than your run of the mill thriller.

If Huntress Moon is anything to go by then the rest of the series will be a hell of a ride.

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Thomas & Mercer

CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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