Haven -- Kay Hooper
Book 13 of Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series
Book 1 of the Haven sub-trilogy
I'm not sure I was as enamored with this Bishop/SCU book as all the ones previous, but as a bias, I still found enjoyment. Still... kind of disappointed by what I got out of this one.
Story Blurb via Goodreads:
Another nightmare, in the woods this time. Different: She was running. Trying to escape.
But the same ending. Always the same ending. Another dead girl...
Emma Rayburn was born and raised in Baron Hollow, North Carolina, and it was a quiet life. Then came the accident... and the nightmares—each filled with unshakable visions of darkness, blind panic, and desperate women chased toward inevitable death. With no reports of local women missing or found dead, Emma has written it off to troubled imaginings—night after dreaded night. Until her sister arrives.
Jessie Rayburn, psychic investigator for a firm called Haven, has been estranged from Emma for years. Unresolved issues from Jessie’s past have not only kept them apart but have been clouding Jessie’s unique abilities. A return to her hometown to face a dark and violent incident from years gone by is her chance to regain them. But reconciliation with the past comes with a price. Few people in Baron Hollow are welcoming Jessie back. No one dares to breathe a word. And in this conspiracy of silence, Emma’s nightmares are becoming more vivid than ever.
Even with the help of Noah Bishop, head of the FBI Special Crimes Unit and co-founder of Haven, Jessie and Emma soon find themselves outnumbered by the secrets buried in Baron Hollow—and outrunning an evil that has been festering for years, one that’s targeting Jessie and Emma one last time.
I honestly couldn’t think of anything to write about with any of the three Haven books, and so I figure I’ll just have to make do with some scattered thoughts.
- The beginning of Haven was creepy and intriguing enough:
”In the first few minutes of Catherine Talbert’s escape, she did her very best to be as quiet as possible. She thought he was gone, but she wasn’t at all certain of that, and in her terror she just wanted to run.
But she crept instead, out into the darkness, not daring to take the time even to look for something to cover her naked body.” (p.1)
- I had even found the relationship dynamic between the two sisters, Emma and Jessie to have some potential for complex storytelling, maybe with some drama and development and angst...
Two sisters who look identical, but are differentiated by the descriptors of “Day” and “Night” or “Dark” and “Light”--which is a bit fantasy-esque and cliche in that “we are unique” type of way, but interesting nonetheless. Two sisters with dark secrets living in a small town with equally sinister secrets typically equals a fairly attention-hooking story device for a crime thriller.
- But as the story progressed, I noticed that distinct dragging of the narration as our characters choose to sit and give monologues and play exposition fairy for the overall series, the series’ concept of paranormal investigation, and just random backstory from previous books. I mean, sure, that’s a good way to make sure your readers don’t get lost, but if a reader has gotten this far into the series by now, there’s no need to be repetitive about the happenings of the Bishop/SCU world.
Multiple characters kept rehashing the same discussions and the same speculative ideas over and over again. It didn’t seem that there was much in the sense of investigations going on; and what little investigations I DID see were either in the background, or were through Jessie, who kept illogically and stupidly putting herself in a situation that she KNEW was dangerous. A lot of the trouble she got herself into(show spoiler)
could have been avoided if she’d just talked to her sister and tried to get some help with her personal investigations.
Even the ghosts were telling her to talk to her sister and figure out all the secrets and mysteries with Emma! And if it’s anything we’ve learned from a Bishop/SCU book, it’s that the ghosts NEVER tell the psychics anything that isn’t vague or cryptic or requires lots of discussion to figure out. So when a ghost tells you something directly such as, “You need to talk to your sister about what’s going on,” maybe it’s a good idea to heed that directive.
- And then, on top of that, we continue to hammer home all that “the Universe” B.S. Sometimes, those types of answers work, but other times, they just feel like a cop out. And these Bishop/SCU stories start to present vague deus ex machinas when we use “the Universe” as the answer to all the problems.
Why don’t ghosts just tell our investigators who killed them? Because that’s not how “the Universe” works. Why are our precog psychic investigators so mysterious about what they see and how they interpret things? Because “the Universe” dictates it that way.
”Things have to happen the way they happen.” Or something like that--but if I have to keep seeing this phrase repeated over and over again, I might start to wonder why we even have a story to tell if everything is just pre-ordained and cannot be changed.
Even the reason behind why certain people do evil and become psychotic ax murderers or satisfy themselves with evil serial killings... it’s all attributed to a “Universal Evil.” As if there’s a separate higher entity out there forcing that person to be a monster. And while that might not be the intention of that “Universal Evil,” it doesn’t keep me from wondering if it’s a way for these serial killers and murderers to shirk responsibility--akin to that age old “the Devil made me do it.”
- I suspect that the only reason anyone “figured out” anything was entirely due to the deus ex machina “Universe” finally laying out the answers when the time was right.
So much for investigating murder mysteries...
What I DID like:
- Hollis Templeton’s presence always seems to make me happier for some reason. Obviously she has become my favorite Bishop/SCU character as one of few SCU agents who actually has a personality, a lot of dry sarcasm to cast around, and a will to go against “the Universe” and what it wants.
- I was a little harsh about the whole “Universal Evil” thing. For this book, I mean. Because there had been talk of a “Universal Evil” in this book, but to be honest, Haven actually presents a common murderer who was some maniac jackass with a murderous nature and a sick and twisted mind. It didn’t seem that said murderer was really all too heavily influenced by an outside “Universal Evil” forcing said murderer to do all that killing and torturing.
The concluding ending of Haven worked out a little bit better; less deus ex machina… despite using some deus ex machina routes to get there.
- The book is fast-paced and full of constant progression, even in spite of all the scenes involving extensive discussions that wouldn’t quit. So, in the end, it balances out the negatives.
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):
- 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge hosted by Because Reading and Fantasy is More Fun
- The Series That Never Ends hosted by Delighted Reader