Review - South of Hell

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

South of Hell
Author: P.J. Parrish
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star


With one phone call from a man he barely recalls meeting years ago, South Florida detective Louis Kincaid heads to the Michigan town of his college days to reopen a disturbing cold case -- and finds himself confronting his own painful past secrets...secrets that risk his future with the woman he loves, detective Joe Frye.

Ann Arbor police detective Jake Shockey wants Kincaid's help in the case of Jean Brandt, who went missing nine years ago -- and whose husband, Owen, has since been paroled. Now, Owen Brandt's girlfriend appears to be at risk, and Shockey is desperate to get involved. Kincaid soon unearths the deeply personal reasons why...and with Joe Frye assisting, Kincaid links yesterday's jealousies with today's potentially lethal vengeance. It's only a matter of time before one will win out over the other -- and before Kincaid's own shattering revelations will be forced out into the light of day.


There are times I across a series that's highly popular, but which due to fate, I've never ever read. Parrish's Louis Kincaid Mysteries is one such series. In such cases, I generally prefer to read the series in order from the beginning, as otherwise I'm always left feeling like the person who arrives at the theater well after the movie has begun - unable to catch-on, so to speak.

The only reason I read this one is undoubtedly because of the title. Plus the opening chapter left me with goose-bumps and at point I even wondered if this was going to turn into a Stephen King novel. It doesn't, but it's scary as Hell, nonetheless.

Although the main characters were new to me, the writing left me feeling as though I've known them a long time. Their inter-relationships, the complications, past histories, even hints of previous cases - they're casually strewn across the narrative and reveal much without ever becoming cumbersome. All characters are refreshingly flawed, particularly the main character, PI Louis Kincaid. And it feels good to see the honesty that overall underlines the relationships, including two... rather three new characters who are pivotal to this particular story.

This is not a murder mystery as such, but it's intriguing to see how it all unfolds, the characters themselves being a big part of the suspense. The violence is shocking at times and readers should know that abuse is a big part of this story. The sisterly duo who write under the pseudonym of Parrish, are par masters at atmospheric writing, their descriptions are chilling and most effective.

In Short

I was a bit disappointed as the mystery is really a no-show from the first. But the writing and the characters more than made up for it.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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