Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Review: The Unforgiven by Heather Graham

by Heather Graham
Release Date: May 25th 2021
2021 MIRA
Kindle & Audiobook Editions; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778331896
Audiobook: B08S5KRJZ4
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars
Twelve years after the grisly murder of her parents, Kaitlyn Delaney has finally found peace. She has friends, a good job, a place to call home and a new life to live. But then a shadow creeps in from Katie’s past, reminding her that she will never completely escape its terrifying grip.

When private investigator Dan Oliver is called to the scene of a gruesome crime in New Orleans, he can’t help but hear echoes of the Delaney case, the unsolved murder that made him leave law enforcement. As he digs deeper, he unearths more chilling similarities—including mysterious letters connecting the killer to a string of murders that terrorized the Big Easy in 1919.
My Thoughts
The Unforgiven is the next entry in the long-running Krewe of Hunters series, and I will admit, is one of those series I turn to when I need something predictabl, but fun, to read.  By about the fifth book, this series has developed a familiar pattern whereby the hero of the story begins to see something supernatural due to something traumatic happening, the FBI comes in to help, the two main characters develop a relationship, and we are treated to some interesting tidbits of history along the way.  There is definitely something comforting when you know exactly how things are going to happen, but in a fun way.
First of all, why do I keep reading these books?  As a history teacher, I love the interesting tidbits that are thrown into every book that is written.  And it's not the usual stuff that everyone tends to know, but the small things that I absolutely love.  This book took place in New Orleans, one of my favourite settings, and even though I know so much about its history, I still learned a couple of things I didn't know before so I always find that interesting.  Unfortunately, the focus on the historical tidbits does tend to take away from the overall story line though, and some parts do seem to meander and lose focus. 
Katie and Dan were ho-hum characters; it's not that I didn't like them, but I definitely didn't feel that sizzle between them and unfortunately, did not buy into their romance.  They went from hating each other to all of a sudden becoming romantically involved, all because Dan decided he would keep an open mind about one of the suspects due to Katie's stubbornness.  I was totally on Dan's side in that scenario and could understand why this person would be considered a suspect and didn't understand why Dan would drop it so easily without really investigating.  Naturally, it all worked out in the end, but it left a bad feeling in my mouth and I almost wanted that person to be the suspect just so I could go, 'I told you so'.  
The case itself was interesting and I liked the link to the 1919 murders, in particular the axe-murderer, but I did feel like the story meandered quite a bit and tried too hard with its twists and turns.  I did figure out who the murderer was quite early on, and I didn't really buy into the reasoning for the murders as it felt forced and a bit silly.  I definitely enjoyed my time in New Orleans, and loved visiting with characters from previous instalments, and, as always, was entertained by the ghosts.  

The Unforgiven was fun, but predictable, with a slew of interesting information about present-day and historic New Orleans.  I liked the characters individually, but thought their romance was forced and didn't quite work.  I also thought the murder investigation meandered quite a bit as if the author couldn't decide exactly who the culprit should be which made the story less creepy and suspenseful than usual. This could be read as a standalone if you haven't yet read anything by this author, but I do recommend starting from the beginning simply because the earlier book are stronger in terms of plot and character development.