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Heart of Evil by Heather Graham
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Heart of Evil

by Heather Graham

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2741764,092 (3.64)None
When a corpse is found swinging from the marble angel in her family's cemetery, heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators to find the truth and must risk everything unravel family secrets with the help of Jack Mallory, a gifted New Orleans musician with a special ability.… (more)

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Heart of Evil
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis:
When a man is found murdered following a civil war reenactment, Ashley Donegal seeks the help of an old flame, Jake Mallory, a member of the FBI's paranormal investigative unit. It soon becomes clear that a madman with a grudge is on the rampage and Ashley and her family are his target.

Review:
The idea of a killer with a historic score to settle is interesting and constitutes a strong foundation for the story. Nevertheless, the plot is poorly executed. The prologue provides no preliminary information and could easily have been another chapter. The division into chapters is problematic in the sense that the narrative begins from the POV of one character and switches to another in the same chapter with no warning, which can be confusing at times.

The characters are like cardboard cutouts and their characterization lacks substance. Even though the romantic couple has more of a connection than the pair in the first book; there is still a serious absence of chemistry in their relationship. The secondary characters are not sufficiently developed and the suspects are merely candidates for a police line-up. Very few clues are provided for the reader to follow, and the villain is ultimately revealed after everyone else is either killed or has an alibi. I would like to point out that I enjoyed the plot in this book more than in the first.

Ms. Graham has many fans out there. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Her writing does not appeal to me as I do not enjoy having the story spoon fed to me as if I am unable to follow a narrative thread.

I can only recommend this for Graham devotees but I will not be continuing with the series.

Heart of Evil is scheduled for release on June 28, 2011. An advance copy of the book was provided to me for review by the publisher and NetGalley.com. ( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
Set in modern times, Heart of Evil is a paranormal murder mystery that stretches back to the Civil War. Set at Donegal Plantation, Ashley Donegal is trying to make ends meet and keep the plantation alive by converting it to a bed and breakfast and having an annual Civil War reenactment. During the reenactment, the actor playing the role of her ancestor Marshall Donegal is killed in a gruesome manner. A paranormal investigation team that includes her old flame, Jake Mallory, is brought in to investigate. Also helping to investigate are the ghosts of Marshall Donegal and his wife. The murder turns out to be a series of murders all centering around what happened over 150 years earlier.

I liked how this novel incorporated historical events, both with the Civil War reenactment, and how the events of the past tied in to the present day murders. It was cleverly done with a supernatural component mixed into it. As for the mystery aspect, the unveiling of the killer surprised me yet remained logical and well thought out. I was less impressed with the romance element between Ashley and Jake, which seemed generic and didn’t do too much to move me. The Krewe of Hunters team was interesting, and I thought more could be done with this cast of characters. All in all, this was a fun read that I would recommend.

Carl Alves – author of Conjesero ( )
  Carl_Alves | Aug 7, 2016 |
This story of history, ghosts, and love reunited drew me in quickly and kept my attention throughout. There is nothing like a serial killer doing a vengeful ghost's bidding to bring back together two people who were separated because of their opposing views on the existence of such paranormal entities. How is that for an original plotline?

The setting came through beautifully through rich descriptions of the plantation and cemetery along with the rich history of the place. The setting of a civil war reenactment was very clever especially when you have modern day people playing the ghosts walking among them. Again, the story was so nicely layered, giving it a full plot. I highly recommend this novel, even if you haven't read the first in the series. It has a little something for everyone: history buffs, romance addicts, ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Jeffrey Cummings
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
The Krewe of Hunters is slated to move to offices in Alexandria, Virginia, but are sidetracked by new case. Donegal Plantation is a bit of a drive from New Orleans -- out by the bayou. The current owner, Frazier Donegal (a veteran of foreign wars), and his orphaned granddaughter, Ashley, are the last in the direct line from Captain Marshall Donegal, the owner who was killed in a battle on the property back in 1861. Cliff Boudreaux, the horse master of Donegal, is Frazier and Ashley's acknowledged biracial cousin.

The Donegals have hung on to their property by turning the house into a bed & breakfast, having a restaurant there (their Jamaican-American chef is a marvel), and a popular reenactment of the battle between Marshall Donegal and five of his militia friends with some Yankee spies. Most of the reenactors on the Confederate side are descendants of the originals, although no Donegal has played Marshall since Ashley's father died 5 years ago.

After a nightmare prologue, we enter with one of the 37th Bayou Militia Calvary Unit reenactors whining that he doesn't want to play a Yankee (one of the reenactors for the Yankee roles has the flu). The problem is solved to the whiner's great satisfaction, but he doesn't show up for the party afterward. Ashley is so worried that the others search for him. No luck.

Not only is Frazier Donegal a friend of Krewe founder Adam Harrison, but Ashley broke off her romance with Krewe member Jake Mallory shortly after her father's death. Of course that means we have our romantic leads for the book. This time it's the hero who accepts his psychic abilities and the heroine who rejects such things. Ashley even thinks she might be going crazy when she sees a ghost. (Loved the ghost's reaction to their first meeting at the end of chapter 5.) The Krewe is asked to help find the missing reenactor, which gives Jake a chance to reconnect with the woman he's never stopped loving.

Of course there are murders. Several interludes give us the killer's point of view. There's plenty of gloating and self-congratulation, with less enjoyable reactions thrown in. The killer's plans didn't include the opposing side getting help from ghosts. Well, one can't plan for everything...

I liked that Ms. Graham tempered the romantic view of the Confederacy by not minimizing the role slavery had in the war. I also liked the way some hidden truths about the Donegals came out. Didn't see them coming, which was good because I guessed the killer before the revelation.

Notes:

See chapter one for Ashley's speech about the reenactment and chapter two for Frazier's.

Chapter two is the place to find Dr. Austin's talk about surgery during the Civil War and Matty Martin talks about the food Confederate soldiers ate, especially hardtack.

See chapter five for reenactor Justin Binder's delightfully sarcastic answer to local Detective Mack Colby during his interview. It's also the place to find Colby making a patronizing jackass of himself. Loved the reason he allowed Jake to stay at the crime scene. As for Mrs. Graham's crack about what Ashley is being because she's wearing a white nightgown, see some of the 1960s standard gothic romance novel covers here: http://www.bookscans.com/Oddities/gothicromance.htm Be sure to read the text, especially the lines under the second and third rows of covers.

See chapter 6 for the way Jake Mallory handled a blond anchorwoman's insensitive handling of the first murder. Heh. Further on, Ashley tells Angela Hawkins what ghosts are supposed to haunt the place, including an unlikely standard. I suspect that last is a nod to the Myrtles Plantation mentioned in the dedication. Here's a line to the plantation's website: http://myrtlesplantation.com/index.php You will find that standard Myrtles story here: http://www.prairieghosts.com/myrtles.html

Chapter 6 also contains the reason the main ghost can't tell Ashley the name of the killer and a confirmation of one of the other hauntings.

Chapter 7 gives us the list of the reenactors with facts about them that Ashley made at Jake's request. (I smiled at her description of Hank Trebly.)

There's a ghost's report about what happened at the battle of Donegal Plantation in chapter 8. Find out which of Ashley and Frazier's 19th century director ancestors is also Cliff's direct ancestor here. (The 20th century Donegal woman who was Cliff's direct ancestress was a collateral ancestress of our heroine and her grandfather.)

See chapter 10 for a nice description of Beaumont plantation, owned by the Donegals' neighbor, reenactor Toby Keaton. ( )
  JalenV | Jul 15, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
Dedicated with gratitude
to the beautiful Myrtles plantation,
and to Teeta LeBleu Moss, owner,
Teresa David, the General Manager,
Hester Eby, Director of Tours,
Taryn Lowery, Tour Guide,
and to Scout and Sprout,
and The Peace River Ghost Trackers

and to Dennis, Jason, Shayne,
and Bryee-Annon Pozzessere;
Teresa Davant, Kathy Pickering, Kathy DePalo,
Bridget LeVien, Matthew Green,
Phinizy Percy Jr., and Connie Perry.
First words
Blood. (prologue)
'Ah, dammit! I don't want to be a Yankee,' Charles Osgood said. (chapter 1)
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