This didn't feel like an Otherworld book. At all. It was deeply disturbing and dark. It featured some characters we know: primarily Hope and Karl, but unlike any of the previous books, this was written in the third person and the real main character was a regular human we've never met before.
It's been six months since Robyn's husband Damon died. Since then, she's moved to LA to start a new life for herself. She's a PR rep for a celebutante, but she's really just going through the motions. Hope is worried about her --the two are longtime friends-- so she and Karl come to visit. Shortly after they arrive, Robyn's client is killed and thanks to a string of unlikely events, Robyn becomes the prime suspect. Then Karl and Hope must figure out who really killed the woman and why, while protecting Robyn from the real killer.
Investigating the case is Detective John Finnley. Finn's a necromancer, though he doesn't even really know what that means. He only knows that he occasionally sees ghosts... a skill that helps him believe Robyn is innocent, not only of her client's murder but other deaths that are piling up in her wake. The ghosts of the victims help lead his way, and so does (eventually) the ghost of Robyn's husband.
Earlier, I mentioned that this story is disturbing. That's due almost entirely to our villain, a sociopathic clairvoyant named Adele. She is the real killer. It's not because she enjoys killing; she's just looking out for number one. You see, Robyn's client had the misfortune of accidentally taking an incriminating photo of Adele. That leads to her death. And the deaths that follow are also to keep Adele's secret -- that she is trying to escape from her commune of clairvoyants to join the Nast cabal. That doesn't sound that bad... standard bad-guy stuff. But there's more to her schemes. She slips birth control pills to one of her commune sisters, knowing it will eventually force the girl into what's essentially gang rape when she can't conceive a child by her husband. The husband Adele wanted for her own. She has sex with a mentally disabled boy to manipulate him into sharing his powers with her, and gets pregnant with his child. Then she seduces his younger brother, a 15 year-old, to hide the baby's paternity. She doesn't care what she has to do or who she has to do it to, to get what she wants.
Adele is really a product of the environment she has grown up in... although undoubtedly, she is the worst case scenario. The commune beats its children to instill fear of the cabals; it inbreeds; uses the disabled for their powers; and we've already talked about the forced sex. It even kills those whose powers are too weak to make them useful. And even as I try to describe all this, I know it doesn't do it justice.
There's a lot going on here. In addition to all the stuff with Robyn, Finn & Adele, we can't forget about Hope and Karl. Their relationship is at a crossroads. And Hope has a lot of uncertainty about her future. And in the end, we see that the major developments in this book and the previous ones are intertwined, perhaps in some greater purpose, or bigger picture. I find that very intriguing. It was a solid installment... it just felt... off. And I missed the romance. 4 stars.