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I was hesitant to pick up Heather Graham's novel, Phantom Evil, expecting it to leave me with that creepy feeling you get from a Stephen King book. In fact, the opening chapter had me so convinced that I was in for a spine tingling read, that I left it home during a recent stay at a secluded cabin lest I give myself the heebie-jeebies. Foolish me.
The story opens with the mysterious death of a Louisiana senator's wife. Did she throw herself from balcony of her French Quarter mansion? Was she pushed? Was she the victim of the ghosts that supposedly reside in the house of a serial killer? Although her death is ruled as a suicide, the senator cannot accept this scenario, even though his wife was grieving the loss of their young son.
Enter a special government team assembled under the direction of Adam Harrison, a renowned paranormal investigator. Harrison has hand picked the members of this team, each one possessing a special talent. Jackson Crow has been selected to lead this fledgling team. He's part English, part Cheyenne and full skeptic, even though he has had his own encounters with the supernatural. Jackson firmly believes that although evil exists, it does so in the living, not the dead. Angela Hawkins is the next senior member of the team. She is blonde, beautiful and tough. She has endured many tragedies in her life and carries an amazing ability to connect with the paranormal. These two are so obviously going to be the romantic story line in the novel that it is almost painful. Rounding out the "Krewe of Hunters" are four more characters that are never developed with much depth and seem to be around simply to fill in the gaps in the narrative and to be introduced for subsequent novels.
As the team unravels the history of the house and the mystery of Regina Holloway's death, the reader gets a taste of New Orleans and the flavor of the French Quarter. I have to say that I enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel most of all. The setting has the right mixture of familiarity and exoticism to hold the reader's attention as well as a splash of political intrigue and titillation. My biggest problem with the novel was its overall predictability.
Overall Phantom Evil was well written enough to keep me entertained, but not enthralled.