The Coldest Fear by Debra Webb

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews 20th July 2017
The Coldest Fear by Debra WebbThe Coldest Fear by Debra Webb
Series: Shades of Death #3
Published by Mira on August 29th 2017
Pages: 411
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four-stars

A killer with nothing left to lose…
Afraid or not, Detective Bobbie Gentry has a monster to confront. The pain of losing her family and nearly her life to a criminal's vile hunger is still fresh, but now the landscape is different. Now she's not alone. Now she has Nick Shade to trust. Nick treats the terror of his past with vengeance. He's dedicated his life to hunting serial killers, and he'd give up his last breath to save Bobbie. When a string of killings bloodies Savannah's elite society and causes cold cases to resurface, Bobbie is captured in a city more haunted than Nick's inescapable nightmares. And as the murderer strikes close, Nick and Bobbie will need to become even closer if they're going to survive.

‘The Coldest Fear’ picks up immediately where ‘A Deeper Grave’ left off, where Bobbie Gentry rushes after Nick Shade to help conquer his demons after he helped her with hers. There’s so much I like about this series and it’s primarily because of the unusual partnership that Debra Webb has gotten going between Bobbie and Nick: their pasts, their sheer capabilities to rise above their broken lives, their similar passions and the depth of their own feelings. Yet very little of that shows up in this book and without this defining feature that I’d found in the past two books, ‘The Coldest Fear’ stayed a very good read but not a fantastic one.

I’d expected that this was going to be a story of Nick and Bobbie working together to search for the man who supposedly orchestrated every recent tragedy in Bobbie’s life. What I hadn’t expected was to see Nick pulling so far away that he stayed hidden in the shadows, mostly out of sight and out of the narrative, still caught in his self-recriminating guilt because he would never be the kind of man for Bobbie who deserved better. This partnership that I’d envisioned was sadly, nowhere to be seen and like Bobbie, I was frustrated seeing Nick disappear when he was clearly needed and his insistence that he had to go at solving the biggest case alone was more hindrance than help by the time I reached the halfway mark. Instead, a seemingly unrelated sub-plot came into play—and which seemed irrelevant—with the pieces only falling into place later as Bobbie gets drawn into a bizarre situation of missing children from a cold case that is 32 years old with Nick relegated to nearly a peripheral character while Bobbie conducted her investigations with another officer in Savannah. It was as though I’d stepped into a separate police procedural with many POVs inserted into the narrative as the plot spirals out into peripheral details and rabbit trails that were bewildering to say the least.

There are however, shocking revelations towards the end and these strings are brought together quite masterfully by Webb as characters finally reveal the fractured history that they all share. It almost makes the long detour worth it, though it was difficult to see anything past the destruction of all the characters’ lives after a while. The hunt for twisted, psychopathic serial killers is claustrophobically wearing and the characters do bleakly reflect this: their personal tragedies are worn deep on their skin and psyches and no one comes away untouched at all.

This series definitely falls more into the suspense/thriller genre with very little emphasis on the romance, which, because of my own personal tastes, was the only disappointment. It’s well-plotted and a complex enough puzzle to get any suspense/thriller-fan going especially with all the mudding details that don’t add up, yet I couldn’t help but think that the overarching story feels very unfinished beyond Bobbie’s personal acceptance of events.

four-stars

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