Heart of Evil

( 108 )

Overview

Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery's most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War.

Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns ...

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Heart of Evil

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Overview

Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery's most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War.

Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare—often inexplicable—intuition. Among the "Krewe of Hunters" is an old flame, Jake Mallory, a gifted musician with talent stretching far beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own.

The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried—even in death.…

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778329985
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011
  • Series: Krewe of Hunters Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 194,734
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 4.32 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Heather Graham
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than one hundred novels, many of which have been featured by the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and mother of five, she still enjoys her south Florida home, but loves to travel as well, from locations such as Cairo, Egypt, to her own backyard, the Florida Keys. Reading, however, is the pastime she still loves best, and she is a member of many writing groups. She’s currently the vice president of the Horror Writers’ Association, and she’s also an active member of International Thriller Writers. She is very proud to be a Killerette in the Killer Thriller Band, along with many fellow novelists she greatly admires.
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Read an Excerpt

"Ah, dammit! I don't want to be a Yankee," Charles Osgood said.

It was there; it had finally come, and Ashley was grateful.

And the semi-drama going on here surely meant her mind had been trying to warn her that the day was not going to come without its share of trouble, because it was already proving to be one hell of an afternoon.

Morning had brought the business of breakfast, visitors pouring onto the property to spend time at the campsites. Now they were coming close to the main event of the day, the reenactment of the battle that had taken place at Donegal Plantation.

She'd never expected the real trouble to come over the sad situation of an ailing faux-Yankee.

"Dammit!" Charles exclaimed again.

Ashley thought that the man sounded like a petulant teenager, though she knew that he didn't really want to argue. Not on a day like today. He flushed as

the words came out of his mouth, and cast her a quick glance of dismay. She wasn't even the one handing out the assignments, though she was the only Donegal among them now. The relish the group was taking in telling Charles his new role unsettled her a bit. Charles Osgood was the newest in the "cavalry unit" of reenactors, which meant that he got the assignment to play for the other side. Yet this seemed to be turning into a college hazing; they were all friends, and they were usually courteous to one another.

"Charlie, come on! Being a Yankee will be fun. Okay, so they were jerks—well, the ones here—who couldn't spy on a neon sign, couldn't hunt, couldn't shoot…. But come on! Being a Yank will be fun!" Griffin Grant teased.

Ashley shook her head; how could grown men be so immature?

In her mind, although she truly loved the living history that took place at the plantation, she thought the units clinging to so-called glory were nothing more than inane. The event had ended with the death of one her ancestors—not a party.

"Hey, hey, all of you!" Ashley said, addressing the men around her and using the voice she would utilize when working with one of the school groups—the grade-school groups. "I know you all like to cling to the magical illusion that the antebellum South was a place of beauty, grace and honor—where men were men. Real men, hunting, riding, brawling—but honorable. Yes, we reenact what was. But this is now, and

that was then! None of you would seriously want to go back to the Civil War, and no one here is prejudiced. The slavery of any person was a horrendous way of life."

"Ashley—you're making it sound like being a real man is bad thing!" Cliff Boudreaux commented, laughing. Cliff, horse master at Donegal, was clearly amused and having a good time.

"Well, of course, Ashley, it's not like we take this too seriously," Griffin Grant said, staring back at her as if she was the one who didn't understand the question. Griffin was a striking man in his early thirties, sleek and slick, a CEO for a cable company in New Orleans, though his ancestors had lived out here, two hours down the road from the big city. "We know reality—and like it. But this is important playacting! "

She groaned softly.

They were good guys, really.

It was playacting, and for the playacting they were able to believe truly with their whole hearts that it had been about nothing other than states' rights. Ashley knew all the statistics about the fighting men— most of the men who fought and died for the South during the war couldn't have begun to have afforded a slave—and war was seldom caused by one issue. But her parents and her grandfather had never been the types to overlook the plantation's complicated history. Cliff was part of that with his gold-green eyes, bronze-colored skin and dark tawny hair. She knew

that half their visitors were immediately enthralled with him. He was one of the reenactors on the Southern side because of the Donegal blood that ran in his veins. Early on, a Donegal widower had fallen in love with a slave, creating the first racial mix in his background. In the 1920s, his great-grandfather had married a Donegal cousin, something that caused a serious scandal at that time in history, but which now gave both halves of the family a sense of pleasure and pride. She wasn't sure how to count second and third or twice-removed relatives, so she considered Cliff to be her cousin.

History was history. Donegal was steeped in it, good and bad, and they didn't hide any of it.

"Charles, they're right. It's a performance, you know," Ashley said. "It's a show, maybe even an important show in its small way. It's where people can see the weapons of the day, the uniforms that were worn. And, actually, remember, this particular fight started because men had a bar brawl—and then an excuse to fight because the war was getting underway. You're all examples of keeping history alive, and I'm so grateful to all of you."

Charles stared back at her blankly; the other men were smirking.

Why didn't they all get it? They were actors in a show, hopefully teaching American history, with several perspectives, along the way. But some things died really slowly here, in plantation country. Family was still everything. Loyalty to hearth and home, kin,

parish and state. They'd been wrong; they'd been beaten, and they knew it, but still, only one side of the cast of players was considered to be elite. And the reenactors could be incredibly snobbish.

That made Charles Osgood the odd man out.

Toby Keaton cleared his throat and then said softly, "Charles—come on. You're lucky to be in with the 27th Bayou Militia Cavalry Unit. Most of the time, the fellows taking part in the reenactments here are direct descendants of those who fought before. You've got to see the truth of this thing. You claim your place in the ranks through marriage—your stepfather was an O'Reilly, and I know he raised you, but, you know, in other old Southern units, that wouldn't count." Toby was forty-four, and Ashley's next-door neighbor at Beaumont, his Creole plantation, though they both had acres and acres of land. Toby grinned as if to cut the harshness of his words. "Newcomer—odd man out. You're a Yankee if I've ever seen one!"

"Great! So now I'm a newcomer—and that makes me an outsider?" Charles asked, staring around the room. "Come on, guys, you've just got to understand. This will really make it look as if I don't belong here

at all!"

He gave his appeal to the others gathered at the horse master's office in the old barn at Donegal Plantation that day—Cliff Boudreaux, Griffin Grant, Toby Keaton, Ramsay Clayton, Hank Trebly, all still with property in the general area, John Ashton, tour director from New Orleans, and Ashley herself. The

"Yankees" were gathering in the old smokehouse— a separate building, and now a small apartment. Charles would be joining them soon; all of the reen-actors gathered together for their roundtable discussions on the war, but each side met separately first on the day of the reenactment to make sure that every member knew the character he was playing. Later, they'd all meet back here to make sure that everyone was apprised of all the safety factors involved.

One, Charles, so it seemed, would have to play a Yankee, and go join the group in the apartment. They were short a Yankee, and that's the way it was. All of them belonged to Civil War roundtables, and these days, none of them really cared about sides—they just liked to discuss tactics and procedure. They often met in the dining room at Donegal; Ashley loved to listen, because they also knew their history, and they spoke about events in the lives of many of the key players in the war, and the fact that the generals had often been best friends before they had been forced to choose sides in the bloody conflict. They knew about weapons, uniforms, sad stories about treason and resisters, draft riots, food, clothing, trade and so much more.

"Charles," Cliff Boudreaux said patiently. "We're all just teasing you here, really. We're short on Yankees today, on account of Barton Waverly being sick with the flu. We're pretty desperate. And that's the rule; newcomers play Yankees when our brothers from up North ask for help. Hell, remember that year

when half of us were laid up with the croup? Three of them Yankees had to come play Southern boys. We're not doing anything bad to you—really."

Ramsay Clayton was seated across the table from Cliff. Ramsay looked like an artist; he was tall, with a wiry muscle structure, long dark hair and classical features. He owned a small place down the road, but he spent a lot of time in New Orleans, where he sometimes showed his work at Jackson Square and sometimes had showings at the galleries. He grinned at Charles. "Yeah, and don't forget, the Yankees won. Hell, come to think about it, where were all the Southern boys when we were losing this thing?" he asked lightly. "Ah, well. Born in our day and age, it's easy to look back at the South's part in the Civil War and wonder, 'What the hell were we thinking?'"

Ashley smiled. She liked Ramsay. He was a good

guy.

"Well, I wish I could just step up to the plate, but I can't. I can't play a Yankee—I just can't," Toby Keaton said. "Hell, my great-great-great-whatever grandfather was the first one to answer Marshall Donegal's call for volunteers. He was one of his best friends. I think he'd roll in his grave if I played a Yankee. Good God! I own a plantation! Wouldn't be fitting for me to play a Yankee. Lord knows, it could be bad for business."

Hank Trebly grinned. "Well, I'm just big sugar. I don't really give a whit. I see the war as over, over, over, and that's the way it is. Lord A-mighty! The

damn thing ended in 1865." Hank owned the property next to Donegal, and his ancestors had owned it forever. The old plantation had been replaced by a sugar refinery years ago. He was a small man, in his early forties, and his business meant everything to him.

John Ashton shrugged. "My family might have been here, but I don't care," he said. "The Civil War means my income these days—tourists love to go back. But I love 'em all. Yankees, rebels, Brits, Brazilians! Bring them on. They all spend money and take tours."

"And what happened here was in 1861, for God's sake, before the thing had really even gotten going," Griffin said, shaking his head. "Come on, now! My ancestor went on to die at the Second Battle of Ma-nassas—now, that's a damned big battle. We're here to teach, and to remember everything that happened in the past—and how it made us what we are today. Let's have fun, folks. C'mon—I come out here to forget the office and programming and statistics, computers and red tape. I don't care who plays what. It's just for a good time."

"I spend most of my time in New Orleans, art on the square and all that—you can call me a doughboy for all I care. It's the spirit of this thing," Ramsay said. "And Lord knows, what happened here couldn't even be called a battle. My ancestor and most of the Southern boys except for Marshall survived, but, as we've all pointed out now—the

North won. We are living the United States of America. This wasn't even really a battle."

He was right. What had taken place late in 1861 hadn't even been a battle. Drinking downriver, toward New Orleans, two Yankee spies had heard about Donegal's then-owner—Marshall Donegal— preparing a major summons to area troops to prepare them for an invasion of New Orleans. In trying to draw Marshall Donegal's men out further on the subject, they had all gotten into a fistfight when one made a ridiculous statement about Northerners being chickens. The two Confederates suspected the men of being spies, and had run back to Donegal. The spies went back to their headquarters, but they were spies, and thus their numbers were small. On each side, six men were mustered—and, rather than be executed as spies if they were caught, the Union men donned their uniforms.

The fighting had ranged from the stables to the porch of the main house and out to the chapel and cemetery—ending when Captain Marshall Donegal had died of a bayonet wound in his own family graveyard. The enemy had "skedaddled," according to the Southern side; the rebels had been left in utter defeat, according to their Northern counterparts.

Now, the "battle" was something that taught history, and, largely due to its small size—and the fact that the current owner of the plantation, Ashley's grandfather, Frazier Donegal, was a history buff and glad to welcome the units on his property—it was a

popular event. "Living history" took place frequently at Donegal, as often as once a week, but an actual re-enactment was done only once a year. Sometimes the actors doing the reenactments were involved in other locations. Some belonged not just to Civil War units, but Revolutionary War units, and it just depended on where the biggest shindig was going on. Luckily, most of the men who could claim to have had ancestors in the brawl loved the plantation and the nearly exact-to-the-past-moment location of the place, and they usually made this reenactment a priority.

Donegal House was surely one of the prettiest places left on the river road, with memories of the antebellum era held in place. The great house still maintained a gorgeous front. It had been built with magnificent Greek columns and wraparound porches, and elegant tree-shaded entries stretched forever before the front and back doors. The currently used stables, housing only six horses, were next to the house, while the larger stables needed in a bygone era were far back from the house, to the left, riverside, and offered three apartments for those who wanted to stay for the night. The old smokehouse and servants' quarters were available for rent as well, and sometimes they even rented out five of the rooms in the main house. With Beth there, Ashley's extraordinarily talented friend and chef, and the efforts they were making with the restaurant and the crazy business that came along with the reenactment, they had chosen this year just to let rooms in the outbuildings.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 108 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 108 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a dark haunting paranormal thriller

    Civil War buffs love the Donegal Plantation in the Louisiana Bayou. Reenactments further enhance the site as a popular attraction. However, rumors abound that Donegal Planation is also home to ghosts, which increase the high regard by people wanting to come to the estate.

    During an enactment, actor Charles Osgood goes missing. The search for him fails to find him so Plantation manager Ashley Donegal informs parish police officer Drew Montague who scorns her for her concern. The next day Ashley finds Charles' murdered body reenacting a Civil War scene. Upset with the death and fearing more to follow Ashley vows to prevent any more killings. Her late ancestor provides her with clues. Also helping her solve the case is her ex-lover, Jake Mallory and his paranormal forensics team including Jackson Crow as each wonders if the killer is living or otherwise.

    The latest Krewe of Hunters (see Phantom Evil) is a dark haunting paranormal thriller that grips the audience once the large cast is set. The story line is atmospherically spooky as only Heather Graham consistently does in the Bayou. The war between the dead and their descendants grips the enthralled readers as Heart of Evil makes for a taut otherworldly investigative mystery with a secondary romantic subplot enhancing the superb supernatural suspense.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Bone pile (cats who died and got eaten)

    Darkclan

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Mystery in the Bayou

    I like Heather Graham "Krewe of Hunters" books. I think they are entertaining, well written (well, as well written as one can expect of a mystery author), and captivating. This one takes place in the middle of the swamps. Being a Floridian, Ms. Graham is well acquainted with the heat and humidity of the bayous. I liked that, it is very off putting when someone writes about them and it is obvious they have never step foot in one.

    I recommend it, it is a good read, as the rest of the series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Threat

    A she cat pads in. "I wanna be a part of this. How often do we raid?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Bloodlust

    He dipped his russet head "my cats will be waiting for your ansewer." He padded off to "Forsaken" res 1

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Shard

    Darts in. Her eyes flash red as she stads still for a moment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Rainfall and DeathNote

    They paced.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Shatter

    An amber tabby tom with sharp yellow eyes and a muscled build, he padded in. The only thing shocking was that long scar that wound across his split, scarred ear and went behind his head. He stared at the cat.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Scarred

    every night.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2013

    Krewe of Hunters...

    I have read 5 of the Krewe of Hunters books and love love love them....Heather don't stop writing....only time I put the books down is when my animals are demanding attention....

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    Good and creepy

    Good blend of mystery and romance

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    Suspense & Romance who could ask for more?

    Very good quick read. Leaves you guessing until the very end.

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  • Posted February 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining read

    Heather Graham has yet to disappoint. She is on a short list of authors I go to when I simply want to relax and enjoy a good story. Her characters are easy to relate to and seemingly normal with special abilities. She gives you plausible story lines by making her main characters very human. Her ghosts relatable. She does not cheat her reader either. We receive the same information as our "krewe" or whom ever is the truth seeker. My only disappointment in any Graham book, they end far too soon! So why not five stars? Saved for that book that is a little bit more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Computer room

    One compuer ad one laptop.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    AWSOME

    This book is really great.

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Another great Heather Graham story!

    I really love the Krewe of Hunters series. This is another satisfying story with twists, turns and fantastic paranormal story. Can't wait to read more from Heather Graham.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Good Read

    Found this book a good read-- she is a good writer

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great book! If you love Heather Graham you gotta check this one out!

    I read this series out of ordered and then got the whole series and read them in irder. It is a fast pace page turn it will keep you entertained to the very end!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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