by A.J. Scudiere
Series: Forensic Files: Under Dark Skies #1
Genres: Crime, Paranormal, Suspense
In NightShade nothing is as it seems . . . Eleri Eames didn’t think she’d ever be allowed to work for the FBI again, so the special FBI division of NightShade seems like an amazing opportunity. But all too soon, her chance to start over starts to disturb her. When the FBI offers Donovan a chance to leave his job as a medical examiner and try his hand at something new, he takes a chance on the NightShade division. Somehow, he has to try to escape from his shadows, but can he trust Eleri with the truth? Thrown together on their first case, Eleri and Donovan must deal with a charismatic cult leader and his true-believers. The cult is mixed up with several decade-old kidnapping cases and the missing daughter of a prominent FBI Agent. As Eleri and Donovan dig deeper, they discover that NightShade’s mysteries aren’t coincidence. Their secrets will save them . . . or destroy them
What a delightfully interesting beginning to a series Under Dark Skies, by A.J. Scudiere turned out to be. This is the first book in the Nightshade Forensic Files series. At its heart the story is an FBI thriller but Scudiere weaved in paranormal elements within this special unit of the FBI.
We meet Eleri Eames as she is waiting outside of a psychiatric hospital. On her last case, her insight into the killer found her being detained as a possible accomplice. She has just learned the FBI has assigned her to the NightShade division and secured her release. Donovan a former medical examiner has just completed his training at Quantico. Eleri is appointed lead and the two are assigned their first case.
The case focuses on a secluded cult and their leader. They are believed to be responsible for several kidnapping cases and most recently the abduction of an FBI agent’s daughter. As the two dig deeper and get to know each other each notices odd things about their partner. For example, while on recon Donovan wearing a GPS device, clocked thirty-two miles an hour. Was it a glitch? Instinctively Eleri knows who to question and where to search for clues. None of these things quite add up and the NightShade division may just be more than either of them expected.
From the mysterious NightShade division to the characters, I found myself slipping right into this case. The tale was well balanced and the paranormal elements had a plausibility to them. It is somewhat how I imagine those different from us living among us. The procedural aspect was not overwhelming as NightShade follows its own guidelines. Any forensics was light on procedural details and focused more on the abilities of certain characters. I loved that the focus was on the case itself and it read like an FBI thriller. The concept of this special FBI division is not a new one, just look at the Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham but Scudiere adds twists and I quite enjoyed it.
It took me a little time to connect with Donovan and Eleri. Given the burden/secrets they have been carrying, it was understandable. There is no romance in this novel, although one could develop going forward. I am curious to see if we will get to know other members of this unit and the cases, we will encounter.
Because the paranormal elements are, low-key Under Dark Skies will make a lovely crossover book for those interested in trying an FBI thriller and those wanting to dabble a little in paranormal. I myself am looking forward to reading the next case.
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