Monday, February 12, 2018


HUNGER MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff (Thomas & Mercer, 2017)
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted . . .

This fifth installment in Sokoloff's excellent 'Huntress/FBI' series is a fast, and furious, read. The narrative crackles with an angry energy, a sense of injustice that echoes the real-life rise of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements. Sokoloff is a master storyteller who gets the pages whirring and keeps the entertainment levels high, but she's also unafraid to hold up a mirror to the ills of contemporary society, the pervasive misogyny that has existed for millennia in various forms but seems to have crawled out of the shadows into the light (and the highest of offices) in recent times.

At its heart, HUNGER MOON is about two people who hunt down the worst of society, the heartless and selfish predators who care little for the damage they cause. Matthew Roarke and Cara Lindstrom are both seeking justice; they just operate on different sides of the law. And perhaps have slightly different views on what are the most fitting or just punishments for heinous crimes.

After chasing vigilante killer Lindstrom throughout previous books, FBI Special Agent Roarke is trying to step back, and focus his work life elsewhere. But he can't shake his connection to Cara. Especially when it seems her actions, and her story, have begun to inspire a whole host of others across the country. "Lady Death" has had enough, and time is up for rapists and predators ...

Roarke and his team find themselves pressured into the strange position of protecting the privileged, of trying to prevent vigilante justice that might have plenty of justification. Meanwhile Lindstrom is being hunted by the very kind of people she's tried to punish, who inspired her vigilante actions.

It's hard to read HUNGER MOON without thinking of various real-life campus rape cases that have hit the news, and the ways in which universities and law enforcement have systemically failed so many victims over the years. Or the recent Hollywood scandals and the #MeToo movement, which are themselves only a high-profile example of pervasive issues women have faced across so many industries and cultures over so many years. Patriarchy, misogyny, the abuse of power.

Sokoloff fearlessly delves into those oh-so-current themes while delivering a barn-burner of a crime thriller. HUNGER MOON is entertaining, and confronting. Polished storytelling packed with raw and authentic emotion. Like a UFC fighter dressed in a tailored suit, it's stylish but bristles with barely-suppressed menace. It's the kind of book you devour in one sitting, but doesn't feel 'breezy'.

I would suggest that readers may get even more from HUNGER MOON if they've read at least some of the first four books in the series, but regardless of whether you start here or back in the beginning, I'd recommend crimeloving readers give Sokoloff and her hard-hitting series a try.

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features for newspapers and magazines in several countries. In recent years he has interviewed 200 crime writers, discussed the genre onstage at books festivals on three continents, and on national radio and popular podcasts, and has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, the McIlvanney Prize, and is the founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can heckle him on Twitter: @craigsisterson

No comments:

Post a Comment