Sheriff Stacey Rhodes moved back home to the small town of Hope Valley, Virginia to take over her father’s position as sheriff. She’s been through a lot and enjoys the peace and quiet of living in a town where nothing bad ever happens. The most excitement for Stacey in Hope Valley is when she has to break up a fight at the local bar.
Seventeen months ago, Lisa Zimmerman went to that same bar and never returned home. Lisa’s mother visits Stacey every week hoping to hear news of what happened to her daughter but every week there’s nothing new to report. The case has hit a dead end and Stacey assumes that Lisa left town with a guy and that’s all there is to it.
Agent Dean Taggert is part of an elite FBI task force called the Cyber Action Team aka CAT. Their job is to solve internet related murders. Dean’s latest case is of a serial killer who calls himself the Reaper. The Reaper is popular on a private website called Satan’s Playground where people get the chance to make bids in an auction on how he will kill his next victim. The murders are recorded and played on the internet for the Satan’s Playground audience to watch. One of the videos that were uncovered by CAT is of the murder of Lisa Zimmerman. This leads Dean and his task force on a trip to Hope Valley, Virginia to work with the town’s sheriff, Stacey Rhodes, in the hopes of finding this elusive serial killer.
When Stacey and Dean meet, there is an instant attraction that they can’t deny. Both are single but this case is very deadly and the last thing they need right now is to get romantically involved with each other. As the Reaper becomes more brazen, time is running out. With every new auction is a new murder. Will Stacey be able to uncover the clues and figure out who the murderer is before it’s too late and the Reaper claims another victim? How will Stacey react when the people closest to her all become suspects? Will Dean and Stacey find love together?
Fade to Black is the first book in the Black Cats series by popular romance author Leslie Kelly writing under the pseudonym Leslie Parrish. The story starts off with an exciting opening that seemed very promising. However, after the prologue, I found the first 100 pages to read very slowly and to drag at points. After passing the hump in the beginning of the book, the story really took off with lots of excitement.
The identity of the killer was not easy to figure out and that makes for a tightly plotted story that kept me guessing until the thrilling conclusion. I really enjoyed the suspense and mystery aspects of Fade to Black and the romance was a nice touch to the story. I just wish the first half of the book could have been as exciting as the second half. Overall, this is a great first installment and I am excited to dive into the next two books in this series.
Reviewed for Night Owl Romance