Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, romantic suspense, thriller
Series: Blackbird Trilogy #2
Published by Mira on July 25, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
Over a century after Jack, a new Ripper is on the loose.
Following in the footsteps of notorious serial murderer Jack the Ripper, a killer is stalking the streets of London. The self-dubbed Ripper King strikes at night, leaving a trail of eviscerated bodies in his wake. Fresh off a case with potential ties to the recent rash of killings, FBI agents Della Hamilton and Mason Carter are all too familiar with a slayer set to rule with a lethal fist. And they’ll stop at nothing to end his reign.
The killer’s MO may be nothing new, but his desire to be infamous makes him dangerous. Della and Mason know it’s only a matter of time before their investigation emboldens this new Ripper, forcing the agents to work quickly before another woman winds up dead. But now that the heat is on, their game of cat and mouse takes an unexpected turn, leading Della and Mason into a deadly trap they never saw coming…
There are characters that never die. Some are fictional, as yesterday’s review of a brand new Sherlock Holmes pastiche proves. Some, however, are completely factual – or at least as much facts as are known – and they seem to have a life of their own.
Especially those who were into the business of killing in a really splashy way. Like Jack the Ripper. Who would have been a contemporary of, and might even have been identified by, the above mentioned Sherlock Holmes. If both of them had been factual, that is.
Secrets in the Dark, however, presents a modern-day Ripper going head to head (or heads) with a much different breed of detective – the new international branch of the Krewe of Hunters, codenamed Blackbird.
Blackbird, in the persons of FBI agents Mason Carter and Della Hamilton, forms the heart of an investigative team that includes agents seconded from Britain, France, Norway with connections to and sanctions from Interpol, to hunt down and apprehend serial killers crossing international borders to carry out their grisly ‘work’.
In the first riveting book in the Blackbird trilogy, Whispers at Dusk in addition to ‘getting the band together’ and Mason and Della getting romantically together, Blackbird brought the notorious ‘Vampire Killer’ to justice in the U.S.
Or so they believed.
But Stephan Dante, AKA the ‘Vampire Killer’, wasn’t just a serial killer – as frightening as that thought is. He was every bit as expert in finding others just as disaffected, disillusioned and downright psychotic as himself, and training them in his methods. Not just his methods of killing, but in his all-too-successful methods of denying the police even a scintilla of trace evidence for forensics to sink their investigative teeth into.
Now that the Vampire Killer is behind bars, one of his best (worst, most-adept, all-of-the-above dammit) apprentices has decided it’s his time to shine. Jack the Ripper is back, leaving a trail of bloody corpses in the back alleys of modern-day Whitechapel, taunting the police and the public by way of both old-fashioned letters and new-fangled social media. Promising a spree that will put his old mentor in the shade and make the original Jack’s gruesome trail seem downright tame in comparison.
Blackbird has the new Jack in their sights, just as they did his old teacher. They’re getting closer than he believes – in spite of his ability to hide in plain sight and follow their every move.
Escape Rating B+: This was a bit of the right book at the right time. I did fall straight into the story because I already knew the characters and the premise after the first book, Whispers at Dusk, and I did find it a compelling read, but I did have a couple of niggles along the way, which I’ll get to in a minute.
First, and not a niggle at all, you do not need to have read the entire Krewe of Hunters series from which this is a spinoff to get into Blackbird. I’m certain of this because I haven’t. By the nature of the team and the way they work with local police liaisons, there’s always a natural opportunity to give any newbies, whether in story or reading the story, to get caught up enough to make it work.
I think one probably does need to read the first Blackbird book, Whispers at Dusk, because the events and circumstances follow directly on from Whispers, and Whispers has done the heavy-lifting of getting the team together and putting Mason and Della into both their working AND their romantic partnership.
The idea of someone attempting to recreate the historical Ripper killings, whether by location or method or both, is neither new nor even completely fictional. The Yorkshire Ripper, AKA Peter Sutcliffe, was clearly a more northerly copycat who operated between 1975 and 1980. Not long ago at all.
But the Ripper King of the Blackbird Trilogy is thankfully fictional – and also totally out of his gourd. The reader does get to take a few trips into his head – and I’d rather have skipped those bits. I read this kind of suspense to see the competent team catch the killer so that part wasn’t my cuppa. It wasn’t too much or too far over the top, but I’d have enjoyed the book more without.
I also wish the killer hadn’t focused on Della exactly the way that his mentor did. I also wish the team had at least one more female agent on it. I can’t put my finger on why, but it bothers me that there don’t seem to be any other female agents except for background characters.
(I recognize that’s a me thing and may not be a you thing.)
So I liked this as much as I did the first book in the Blackbird Trilogy, Whispers at Dusk, and I certainly got into it every bit as fast and stayed stuck in it just as hard to the very end. More than enough that I’m looking forward to see this case get wrapped up in Cursed at Dawn later this month!