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Book Critique: Darkest Journey (Krewe of Hunters # 20)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Yes, pick up the series for a mystery involving paranormal elements, historical flair and the romantic side of the plot, sometimes giving shivers and sometimes just thrills.

Darkest Journey is the twentieth book in the Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham and published in September of 2016. The plot centers around Charlene "Charlie" Moreau - an up and coming actress - and Ethan Delaney - FBI Special Agent with The Krewe, the first team. The plot is set in St. Francisville, Louisiana and extends to New Orleans too, aboard the historic Celtic American Cruise-Line, the Journey. It is set right after the events in Deadly Fate.

This book forms the third and final book in the fourth trilogy within the series - first book being the Haunted Destiny and second book being Deadly Fate; with each book in the trilogy set on a cruise ship belonging to Celtic American Cruise-Line company. This one is set on the cruise ship called, Journey. First trilogy consisted of the ninth book The Night is Watching; the tenth book The Night is Alive; the eleventh book The Night is Forever. Second trilogy consisted of the 12th book The Cursed, 13th book the Hexed and 14th book The Betrayed. Third Trilogy consisted of the 15th book The Silenced, 16th book The Forgotten and the 17th book The Hidden.

Krewe are a secret FBI unit with each member of the unit honing a particular psychic talent of their own, making them the paranormal investigating team. This unit was created to deal with murders having supernatural undertones and paranormal activities. Headed by paranormal investigator Adam Harrison, this elite unit is called on to solve cases linked to historical and paranormal mystery involving legendary crime and serial killings, war events and hauntings. The Krewe are divided into three distinct groups. The first group is led by Jackson Crow, who is also the Assistant Director of the Krewe, and called as the original Krewe of Hunters; the second group is led by Texas Ranger Logan Raintree and called as the Texas Krewe; the third group is Yankee Krewe, based in NYC, overseen by Jackson Crow. A possibility of a fourth group in Miami, FL is touched upon in the 17th book The Hidden.

Charlene "Charlie" Moreau comes back to St. Francisville, Louisiana, to work on a film, ends up stumbling upon a Civil War reenactor, the second one to be murdered. And all her memories of the past come floating back.

Ethan Delaney, the lead FBI Special Agent from The Krewe on the case, comes to Charlie's aid when the case hits too close to home. They have a brief history that tempts to become something more in the present. Midst all this, Ethan is worried that she could be the next target of the killer, just like so many years ago. And now they have to take the darkest journey across the Mississippi River to find the real killers.

This being the final part in the trilogy, one would expect characters to follow too, along with the Krewe of Hunters who aid in this case - Jackson Crow, Special Agent in Charge and his wife Angela Hawkins; Aiden Mahoney, whom we had met in the 14th book The Betrayed; Jude McCoy, whom we met in Haunted Destiny; Thor Erikson, whom we had met in Deadly Fate; along with Jude and Thor's fiancées Alexi Cromwell and Clara Avery.

But Heather Graham again has the list of all her characters in the beginning of the book just like the previous one giving the reader a view into who they will encounter along the way. 

At the end of Deadly Fate, we had seen that Adam Harrison has asked Clara Avery to be the artistic director of the historic theater he had purchased. Naturally we would have expected for Alexi Cromwell, Jude's fiancée, to be part of it as well. And so does Charlie Moreau belong to that restoration; thus keeping the flow not only in the characters but also in the scenes within the plots between the books. 

Heather Graham in one conversation between Charlie and Ethan's friends has them comparing the duo to Nick and Nora Charles famed for the Thin Man film series; Remington Steele; Dana Scully and Fox Mulder from The X-Files Series; and Booth and Brennan from the TV Series Bones. Interestingly enough each of the series mentioned have been my favorites and I have watched quite a few episodes of them. Pleased to see them listed by Heather too. 

The plot started off really really great and it was beginning to be one of my favorite books in the series. But then as in every book, Heather has her heroine go alone to meet the bad guys in the end despite how much the FBI agents protest, without letting them know where she is going. 

What is the use of having all that protection around, and able people who actually want to help and investigate the crimes, when the heroine goes off on her own? Isn't there something called trust that she should have on the law enforcement? If she doesn’t have why does she even call them for help in the first place? It is so frustrating to see the same kind of ending in every plot. I wish the heroines take help of the FBI agents more when they actually need.

Second thing that made me starting to have second thoughts about the book, was the abrupt way Heather ended the plot. No epilogue to explain some of the loose ends. And also she doesn’t give any explanation as to why the protagonist Ethan Delaney resembles the long ago dead Captain Anson McKee; no genealogy discussion and ancestry connections. 

So in the end I am torn in my opinion with this book, I love this book as much as I dislike the ending.

I see a pattern to Heather Graham's stories in the Harrison Investigations and Krewe of Hunters series, apart from the presence of ghosts and spirits. Usually the stories revolve around historical inferences, somehow connecting the past to the present either by way of characters or incidents and they involve hidden tunnels be it in cemetery or old houses or mortuaries. Always has one new pair of Krewe of Hunters or Harrison Investigations investigators. I wonder if Heather will add a third twist to the plot. 

As always there are historic and paranormal references from past are given to the reader with artifacts, events and places. This time referencing to history behind the ceremony The Day the War Stopped; about the cruise ship, the Journey; the cities that Journey takes from St. Francisville to New Orleans. 

Readers would find a page at the end, instead of hard-card inserts, where it gives them an opportunity to either join a book club and win books, or buy a book and get a few free. Again there are very few grammatical or character or location errors in this book. So someone did a good job of editing.

A very good mingle of murder and mystery; past and present; free masons and environmentalists; and above all romance and love. Although for most part a successful thriller in the series of books under Krewe of Hunters by Heather Graham that is an easy ready and still enjoyable; I still would have liked more at the end.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Beginning of the book, Heather Graham mentions about a serial killer around Baton Rouge, LA, when the lead character Charlene "Charlie" Moreau was a teenager. And later she eludes that the serial killer was apprehended and he died of a stroke in prison. I read a series by Lisa Jackson, New Orleans Series, revolving around Detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya, that had covered a serial killer in Baton Rouge, LA. But none of the previous books of Heather had a plot in Baton Rouge with an active serial killer although she has references to that place when the investigators pass through. 

b. The Krewe of Hunters have their own plane now, courtesy of Adam Harrison's financing. 

c. Chance Morgan, the photographer of the movie set, can also see ghosts. So will there be a plot for him by Heather?

2. Sub Plots:

a. In eleventh book, The Night Is Forever, Dustin Blake was part of an FBI team consisting of Grant Shelby, Cindy Greenstreet and Jerry Gunter. I am wondering why Heather Graham had mentioned them in detail. Will they resurface in future plots?

b. Dustin Blake has a sister Rayna Blake who is a Nashville sensation - a country music singer. Another character for a future book, perhaps.

c. Katie O'Hara and David Beckett are two characters in The Cursed plot. And a history into their background paused me to think they might be characters from another of Heather Graham book. I was pretty sure they weren't from Krewe of Hunters or Harrison Investigation series. A little dig on google pointed me to Ghost Shadow, the first book in Bone Island Series by Heather Graham published in 2010. Having not yet read that series, I am curious if Hannah O'Brien or Liam Beckett, David's brother, appear in that book as well. 

d. Jane Everett and Sloan Trent were part of Team Two: Texas Krewe. But in The Betrayed, Heather mentions that they were going to be permanent members of the Yankee Krewe. Have to read the rest of the books to know if that is where she sends them. 

e. In the 16th book The Forgotten, Dr. Phil Kinny seemed to have paranormal abilities. Will he be a main character in another book?

f. In Haunted Destiny, Heather Graham introduces us to the large family of Alexi Cromwell, albeit only as a conversation - her parents, a brother who is an artist, a sister Sienna who is a doctor. Curiously enough only Sienna's name is mentioned in the plot and none of the other family members.  Perhaps we might see Sienna again.

g. Heather introduced Mike Aklaq as Thor Erikson's partner in Deadly Fate. I would love to see a story for him in future. 

h. At the end of Deadly Fate, Clara Avery gets to be artistic director of Adam Harrison's new acquisition - a historical theater in Alexandria, VA.

3. Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. In several cases Heather refers to Adam Harrison as the head of the Krewe of Hunters and Jackson Crow as the Assistant Director. However in this book, she refers Adam as the Special Assistant Director and Jackson as Special Agent In Charge. What are their roles exactly? The former? Or Latter?

b. On Pg. 139, Line 21, it should be "Chance" instead of "Chase". Heather made an error with naming the character.

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