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Friday, January 16, 2015

Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman

Minotaur Books, 336 pages, $25.99 (release date - 1/20/2015)

“Fear the Darkness” is the follow-up to Becky Masterman’s solid debut, “Rage Against the Dying.” That first book was successful because of Masterman’s quirky protagonist: slightly sociopathic, slightly crazy, definitely tough, ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn. Brigid took on tough assignments, until she unfortunately shot an unarmed suspect. She was sentenced to wait until retirement in a paper-pushing job in Tucson, Arizona, the FBI equivalent of the ass-end of nowhere. But Brigid wound up liking Tucson. After she retired, she found love, previously elusive, and settled down to happy suburban quiet. Until, of course, it wasn’t quiet anymore.

In Masterman’s second go at Brigid, Brigid’s Mini-Me is added to the mix. Brigid’s niece, seventeen-year-old Gemma-Kate, has just lost her mother. Gemma-Kate’s father is an alcoholic cop in Florida. He is more than happy to send his daughter off to be his sister’s problem. Gemma-Kate has odd interests. Then Brigid begins to suspect that Gemma-Kate is experimenting with poisons, beginning with the unfortunate poison toad incident with one of Brigid’s beloved pugs. 

Brigid confides in her best friend — yes, Brigid, who suffers from an attachment disorder, has both a best friend and a beloved husband — Mallory. Mallory is a saint. She is nursing her bedridden husband who is suffering from locked-in syndrome. There’s nothing wrong with Owen’s brain, but when a train hit the car he and Mallory were in, he was left with control over only his brain and his eyes.

Mallory is concerned because Brigid is becoming increasingly disabled. A limp here, a slur there, a zoning out further on. Brigid begins medical tests to figure out what is wrong with her. Eventually, however, suspicion clouds Brigid’s already strangely clouded mind that perhaps Gemma-Kate has moved on to target humans, beginning with her aunt.

Despite her growing impairments, Brigid takes on a case. (She finally succumbed to her true nature and became a private investigator.) The teenaged stepson of a local doctor — and maybe coincidentally Brigid’s doctor for the purpose of determining what is wrong with her — drowned. His disconsolate mother begs Brigid for help determining if her son died accidentally or was murdered, despite her husband’s antipathy towards the enterprise.

There are more poisonings and then another death. If only Brigid could focus, perhaps she could stop bad things from happening. If-only and $7 could get you a cup of coffee.

Despite the awkward prologue — which is repeated almost verbatim later on in an appropriate spot — Masterman’s second Brigid Quinn book is entertaining, mostly because of Brigid’s eccentric character, unfiltered statements, and her Mini-Me.


  1. What does it say about me that you had me on "slightly sociopathic, slightly crazy" protagonist? :-) I love the way you described Brigid's character.