Someone is stalking the little town of Silence. Three victims have fallen to a killer's savage vengeance. Each of the dead men was a successful and respected member of the community--yet each also harbored a dark secret discovered only after his murder. Were their deaths the ultimate punishment for those secrets? Or something even more sinister? Nell Gallagher has come home to Silence more than a decade after leaving one dark night with her own painful secrets. Forced now by family duty to return, she has also come home to settle with the past. But past and present tangle in a murderer's vicious attacks, and to find the answers she needs, Nell must call on the psychic skills that drove her away years before. She must risk her own life and sanity, and regain the trust of the man she left behind so long ago. For the killer she seeks is seeking her, watching her every move, preying upon her every vulnerability--and already so close she'll never see death coming . . .
ages upon pages of pseudoscientific explanations and stale dialogue clutter up Whisper of Evil, the newest in Kay Hooper's paranormal mystery series (after Touching Evil). Reluctant psychic Nell Gallagher never planned to return home to Silence, especially not to settle the affairs of her father, whom she hated, or to help solve a string of murders that has the local sheriff scratching his head. But before long, she teams up with her old high school flame, Max Tanner, to root out the killer. While the romantic tension between Nell and Max is strong, the book's action is virtually nonexistent. Instead, Hooper fills her story with unwieldy discussions of psychic powers, energy fields and electric brain impulses.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 24, 2002
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Excerpt from Whisper of Evil by Kay Hooper
Tuesday, March 21
Whoever had dubbed the town Silence must have gotten a laugh out of it, Nell thought as she closed the door of her Jeep and stood on the curb beside the vehicle. For a relatively small town, it was not what anyone would have called peaceful even on an average day; on this mild weekday in late March, at least three school groups appeared to be trying to raise money for something or other with loud and cheerful car washes in two small parking lots and a bake sale going on in the grassy town square. And there were plenty of willing customers for the kids, even with building clouds promising a storm later on.
Nell hunched her shoulders and slid her cold hands into the pockets of her jacket. Her restless gaze warily scanned the area, studying the occasional face even as she listened to snatches of conversation as people walked past her. Calm faces, innocuous talk. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It didn't look or sound like a town in trouble.
Nell glanced through the window of her Jeep at the newspaper folded on the passenger seat; there hadn't been much in yesterday's local daily to indicate trouble. Not much, but definitely hints, especially for anyone who knew how to read between the lines.
Not far from where she stood was a newspaper vendor selling today's edition, and she could easily make out the headline announcing the town council's decision to acquire property on which to build a new middle school. There was, as far as she could see, no mention on the front page of anything of greater importance than that.
Nell walked over to buy herself a paper and returned to stand beside her Jeep as she quickly scanned the three thin sections. She found it where she expected to find it, among the obituaries.
George Thomas Caldwell,
42, Unexpectedly, at Home.
There was more, of course. A long list of accomplishments for the relatively young man, local and state honors, business accolades. He had been very successful, George Caldwell, and unusually well-liked for a man in his position.
But it was the unexpectedly Nell couldn't get past. Someone's idea of a joke in very poor taste? Or was the sheriff's department refusing to confirm media speculation of only a day or so ago about the violent cause of George Caldwell's death?
Unexpected. Oh, yeah. Murder usually was.
She refolded the newspaper methodically and tucked it under her arm as she turned to face him. It was easy to keep her expression unrevealing, her voice steady. She'd had a lot of practice--and this was one meeting she had been ready for.
Standing no more than an arm's length away, Max Tanner looked at her, she decided, rather the way he'd look at something distasteful he discovered on the bottom of his shoe. Hardly surprising, she supposed.
"What the hell are you doing here?" His voice was just uneven enough to make it obvious he couldn't sound as impersonal and indifferent as he wanted to.
"I could say I was just passing through."
"You could. What's the truth?"
Nell shrugged, keeping the gesture casual. "I imagine you can guess. The will's finally through probate, so there's a lot I have to do. Go through things, clear out the house, arrange to sell it. If that's what I end up doing, of course."
"You mean you're not sure?"
"About selling out?" Nell allowed her mouth to curve in a wry smile. "I've had a few doubts."
"Banish them," he said tightly. "You don't belong here, Nell. You never did."
She pretended that didn't hurt. "Well, we agree on that much. Still, people change, especially in--what?--a dozen years? Maybe I could learn to belong."
He laughed shortly. "Yeah? Why would you want to? What could there possibly be in this pissant little town to interest you?"
Nell had learned patience in those dozen years, and caution. So all she said in response to that harsh question was a mild "Maybe nothing. We'll see."
Max drew a breath and shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, gazing off toward the center of town as if the bake sale going on there fascinated him.
While he was deciding what to say next, Nell studied him. He hadn't changed much, she thought. Older, of course. Physically more powerful now in his mid-thirties; he probably still ran, still practiced the martial arts that had been a lifelong interest. In addition, of course, to the daily physical labors of a cattle rancher. Whatever he was doing, it was certainly keeping him in excellent shape.
His lean face was a bit more lived-in than it had been, but just as with so many really good-looking men, the almost-too-pretty features of youth were maturing with age into genuine and striking male beauty--beauty that was hardly spoiled at all by the thin, grim line of his mouth. The passage of the years had barely marked that face in any negative way. There might have been a few threads of silver in the dark hair at his temples, and she didn't remember the laugh lines at the corners of his heavy-lidded brown eyes. . . .