Once, Special Agent Smoky Barrett hunted serial killers for the FBI. She was one of the best–until a madman terrorized her family, killed her husband and daughter, and left her face scarred and her soul brutalized. Turning the tables on the killer, Smoky shot him dead–but her life was shattered forever.  Now Smoky dreams about picking up her weapon again. She dreams about placing the cold steel between her lips and pulling the trigger one last time. Because for a woman who’s lost everything, what is there left to lose?   She’s about to find out.  In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him–a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers’ attempts to understand him. And he’s issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live.  The killer videotaped his latest crime–an act of horror that left a child motherless–then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever.  Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again–and she’s about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother…and a merciless killer’s next victim.

 

Um, oh WOW! It’s not too often a book goes automatically on my “forever” shelf, but this one was destined to by the time I hit about the third page.  Smoky is an unbelievably layered, wonderful character.  The killer is absolutely diabolical, and while I did figure out who it was about ¾ of the way through, that in no way detracted from my absolute fascination with the story.  Because, when it really comes down to it, this book is all about Smoky, and the journey she takes from almost ending it all to believing there’s something to wake up to each morning.  I can’t wait to see where McFadyen goes with the next book in the series, The Face of Death.  I’ve got it, but I’m saving it *g*.  If you like well drawn characters, outstanding police procedural details, a plot line that will grab you by the throat, and aren’t afraid to ride the Shadow Train, then do yourself a favor and grab this one while you still can.

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