PUBLISHER: Kensington Publishing
RELEASE DATE: 1st April 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 352 pages
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
Jackie Rutledge has faced down everything from the darkest sorcery to uber-vengeful revenants. But heading up the Bureaus special paranormal unit is presenting unexpected challenges. Handling other-worldly egos and politics has never come easy to this loner agent. And opening up to her sexy, vampire lover, Nick, is as unnerving as her unwanted new ability to slip between the realms of the living and the dead…
Now an insidious power holding helpless ghosts in thrall is using any means necessary to discredit Jackie and split her team apart for good. The only chance she has means baiting the terrifying Deadworld being stalking her dreams, hunting her every step–and growing ever more hungry for her ultimate sacrifice… (Goodreads)
THE LINGERING DEAD is the third book in the Jackie Rutledge series. After the rather disappointingly average The Vengeful Dead, this series is thankfully back on top form. Duncan has managed to blend what was so wonderful about the first book, Deadworld, while still keeping the continuity of The Vengeful Dead.
What has become the authors’ trademark, the story centres around the main antagonist in the tale. By the end of the very first chapter, we know that this is a vampire named Charlotte who has apparently brainwashed a young girl named Jessica. The purpose appears to be to take the place of her sister, Rebecca. Apart from that, we know little else. I like this about the authors’ style. By teasing us at the very beginning, lots of questions are thrown up instantly and it makes you want to find out how this fits into the bigger picture.
So after this intriguing opening, we are once again back with our gang of fearless supernatural investigators just as they are starting up on their new endeavor.
Jackie is definitely a fish out of water in the beginning of the book. She has lost her job as an FBI agent, she’s trying to keep sober while dealing with the events of the last book (which seem to have only occurred a few weeks ago, tops) and also her feelings towards Nick.
So, while trying to deal with her new role and some personal issues involving Nick, the group is drawn to a case of the creepy town, called Thatchers Mill. I rather liked how they decided that this was the one case from the numerous ones sent over by Jackie’s ex-partner, McManus, to review. The reasoning that Thatchers Mill was the case to investigate was because that it was reported by an FBI agent, thus it holds some weight to it.
Unlike the last book, the main plot to this story has links both with Nick and the first book’s antagonist, the vampire Drake. This link being that Nick was pursuing Drake and followed him to the town of Thatchers Mill, about 140 years ago. Here, as we find out later in the book, Nick stumbled on Charlotte, whose family had been slaughtered much like Nicks own. Nick tried to help her, but she flipped when she finds out that Nick is a vamp.
This carries through much of the book, once Nick pieces the parts together. How would things have been different if Nick managed to help Charlotte? How many people would he have saved, since, we find out, that Charlotte has been trying to re-create her family over the years?
This is very well handled and you can’t help wondering how Jackie, Nick and the others are going to stop this from continuing. Unfortunately, it isn’t without blood being shed.
There is also a very clever sub-plot. With Charlotte trying to prevent the team from putting an end to her path of destruction, Jackie ends up back in Deadworld and comes face to face with the creepy Spindly Man we caught a glimpse of in The Vengeful Dead. Jackie may have gotten herself in too deep with regards the deal she had made with him to save her friends. What may come of this, I don’t know. I do know that it is going to be interesting to watch unfold.
If I have to praise one thing about this book, it has to be the relationship between Nick and Jackie. This sub plot is wonderful to read. I had thought that Nick had managed to deal with all, if not most, of his demons in the first book, but the link that Nick has with the villain, Charlotte, kicks up a whole new bunch.
Then there is Jackie herself. You see that she is maturing and developing as a character. She is trying to learn from past mistakes, in order to get her life together. With the loss, at least physically, of her best friend Laurel, she now has a whole new group of friends to help her. Surprisingly, one of the most important people to help her turns out to be Shelby, Nicks partner and protégé, and Laurel’s girlfriend.
I know I was very hard on the character of Shelby in my last reviews, but this book redeems her. She really comes into her own, both by providing advice and support to Jackie and in showing how important she is to Nick’s own humanity. In fact, the relationship between Nick and Shelby reminds me of the one shared between Eric and Pam in True Blood.
As for the character of Charlotte, though her actions are terrible, I couldn’t help feeling pity for her. Here is a fifteen year old girl who was forced to watch her family being murdered, only to turn into a monster herself. In an attempt to try to re-capture her good memories, she brainwashes the town and convinces people to take the role of her family. It is very sad to read.
A return to form for the author.. It has a very complex plot, where even the villain is a victim herself. Hopefully this series will continue, as Duncan brings a unique voice to an already over crowded genre.
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