Shadow Fall (Tracers Series #9)

Shadow Fall (Tracers Series #9)

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by Laura Griffin
     
 

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In the ninth romantic suspense novel in the New York Times bestselling Tracers series, author Laura Griffin brings back her elite cadre of forensic experts as they hunt down the most brutal serial killer yet.

Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is

Overview

In the ninth romantic suspense novel in the New York Times bestselling Tracers series, author Laura Griffin brings back her elite cadre of forensic experts as they hunt down the most brutal serial killer yet.

Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.

The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Security, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.

As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.

The ninth novel in the Tracers series that combines gripping plot twists with spine-tingling romance, Shadow Fall once again proves that “Laura Griffin gets better with each book” (The Romance Reviews).

Editorial Reviews

Top Pick! —RT Book Reviews
“Fiercely passionate. With plenty of action and steady pacing, SHADOW FALL will not disappoint.”
Fresh Fiction
"Will have you gripping the edge of your seat."
Single Titles
"SHADOW FALL is rivetingly suspenseful... keeps the reader entranced.”
A Tasty Read
“Seriously addicting! Liam and Tara were sizzling. The chemistry between them from the very first meeting was electric.”
Lisa Unger
"Far Gone has it all—a smart, engaging heroine, a rocket-paced plot, and explosive nonstop action. Adding a dash of heady romance to the recipe, Laura Griffin has cooked up a delicious read that will thrill her devoted fans—and earn her legions more."
New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards
Far Gone is a tense, exciting romantic thriller that's not to be missed. Laura Griffin is one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend this book.”
Bookpage
"Great lead characters and a spooky atmosphere make this a spine-tingling, standout novel of romantic suspense."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476779256
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Publication date:
09/22/2015
Series:
Tracers Series , #9
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
94,376
Product dimensions:
6.70(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Shadow Fall

  • EAST TEXAS PINEY WOODS

    THREE YEARS LATER

    Evenings were the hardest, the time when everything unraveled. Catie’s mind overflowed, her chest felt empty, and the craving dug into her with razor-sharp claws.

    Her shoulders tensed as she pulled into the park. All her life, she’d been addicted to work and approval and success. Now she was simply an addict.

    Her high-performance tires glided over the ruts, absorbing the bumps as she eased along the drive. She turned into the gravel parking lot and swung into a space. Forty-six days.

    Resting her head on the wheel, she squeezed her eyes shut. Her throat tightened, and she fought the burn of tears.

    “One day at a time,” she whispered.

    She sat up and gazed through the windshield. She’d never thought she’d be one of those people who gave themselves pep talks. She’d never thought she’d be a lot of things. Yet here she was.

    Catie shoved open the door and popped the trunk. She tossed her purse inside, then rummaged through her gym bag, looking for her iPod. On second thought, no music. She slammed the trunk closed, locked the car, and tucked the key fob into the zipper pocket of her tracksuit. She leaned against a trail marker and stretched her quads. A few deep lunges and she was ready to go.

    She set off at a brisk pace, quickly passing the dog walkers and bird enthusiasts who frequented the trail. Her muscles warmed. Her breathing steadied. She passed the first quarter-mile marker and felt the tension start to loosen.

    The routine had become her lifeline. She registered the familiar scent of loblolly pines, the spongy carpet of pine needles under her feet. She put her body through the paces, then her mind.

    It was Wednesday. She was halfway through the week, another daunting chain of days that started with paralyzing mornings in which she had to drag herself out of bed and force herself to shower, dress, and stand in front of the mirror to conceal the evidence of a fitful night. Then she faced the endless cycle of conference calls and meetings and inane conversations as the secret yearning built and built, culminating in the dreaded hour when it was time to go. Time to pack it in and head home to her perfectly located, gorgeously decorated, soul-crushingly empty house.

    But first, a run. Or a spin class. Or both. Anything to postpone the sight of that vacant driveway.

    Almost anything.

    Catie focused her attention on the narrow trail. Thirst stung her throat, but she tried to clear her mind. Rounding a bend, she noted the half-mile marker. She was making good time. Another curve in the path, and she came upon a couple jogging in easy lockstep. Twenty-somethings. At the end of the trail, and still they had a bounce in their stride. The woman smiled as they passed, and Catie felt a sharp pang of jealousy that drew her up short.

    She caught herself against a tree and bent over, gasping. Shame and regret formed a lump in her throat. She dug her nails into the bark and closed her eyes against the clammy onset of panic.

    Don’t think, Catie, Liam’s voice echoed in her head. Be in the moment.

    God, she missed him. Liam was way too smart and way too intense, and he didn’t know how to turn it off. And she liked that about him. So different from David.

    Liam never belittled her.

    He knew evil lurked in the world, and he faced it head-on, refusing to look away, even relishing the fight.

    Snick.

    Catie’s head jerked up. She swung her gaze toward the darkening woods as awareness prickled to life inside her.

    The forest had gone quiet.

    No people, no dogs. Even the bird chatter had ceased. She glanced behind her, and a chill swept over her skin.

    Look, Catie. Feel what’s around you.

    She did feel it. Cold and predatory and watching her.

    David would tell her she was paranoid. Delusional, even. But her senses were screaming.

    She glanced around, trying to orient herself on the trail. She wasn’t that far in yet. She could still go back. She turned around and walked briskly, keeping her chin high and her gaze alert. Strong. Confident. She tried to look powerful and think powerful thoughts, but fear squished around inside her stomach, and she could feel it—something sinister moving with her through the forest, watching her from deep within the woods. She’d felt it before, and now it was back again, making her pulse quicken along with her strides.

    I am not crazy. I am not crazy. I am not crazy.

    But . . . what if David was right? And if he was right about this, could he be right about everything else, too?

    A sound, directly left. Catie halted. Her heart hammered. She peered into the gloom and sensed more than saw the shifting shadow.

    Recognition flickered as the shape materialized. With a rush of relief, she stepped forward. “Hey, you—”

    She noticed his hand.

    Her stomach plummeted. All her self-doubt vanished, replaced by a single electrifying impulse.

    Catie ran.

    SPECIAL AGENT TARA Rushing drove with the windows down, hoping the cold night air would snap her out of her funk. She felt wrung out. Like a dishrag that had been used to sop up filth, then squeezed and tossed aside.

    Usually, she loved the adrenaline rush. Kicking in a door, storming a room, taking down a bad guy—anyone who’d done it for real knew nothing compared. The high could last for hours, even through the paperwork, which was inevitably a lot.

    Typically, after a successful raid everyone was wired. The single agents would head out for a beer or three, sometimes going home together to burn off the energy. But tonight wasn’t typical.

    After so many weeks of work and planning, she’d expected to feel euphoric. Or at the very least satisfied. Instead she felt . . . nothing, really. Her dominant thought as she sped toward home was that she needed a shower. Not just hot—volcanic. She’d stand under the spray and scrub her skin raw and maybe get rid of some of the sickness clinging to her.

    Tara slowed her Explorer as the redbrick apartment building came into view. Her second-floor unit looked dark and lonely beside her neighbor’s, where a TV glowed in the window and swags of Christmas lights still decorated the balcony.

    She rolled to a stop at the entrance and tapped in the access code. As the gate slid open, her phone vibrated in the cup holder. Tara eyed the screen: US GOV. She’d forgotten to fill out some paperwork or turn in a piece of gear, or maybe they needed her to view another video.

    She felt the urge to throw her phone out the window. Instead she answered it.

    “Rushing.”

    If she put enough hostility into her voice, maybe they wouldn’t have the balls to call her back in.

    “It’s Dean Jacobs.”

    She didn’t respond. Because of shock and because she couldn’t think of a single intelligent thing to say.

    “You make it home yet?” he asked.

    “Almost. Sir.”

    Jacobs was her SAC. She’d had maybe four conversations with him in the three years since she’d joined the Houston field office.

    “They were just filling me in on the raid,” he said. “Good work tonight.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    The gate slid shut again as she stared through the windshield.

    “I understand you live north,” he said.

    “That’s right.”

    “There’s a matter I could use your help on.”

    Something stirred inside her. Curiosity. Or maybe ambition. Whatever it was, she’d take it. Anything was better than feeling numb.

    “I need you to drive up to Cypress County. They’ve got a ten-fifty off of Fifty-nine.”

    His words surprised her even more than the midnight phone call. Tara knew all the 10-codes from her cop days, but dispatch had switched to plain language, and nobody used them anymore. A 10-50 was a deceased person.

    She cleared her throat. “Okay. Any particular reason—”

    “Take Martinez with you. She’s got the location and she’s on her way to your house, ETA ten minutes.”

    Tara checked her sports watch.

    “Stay off your phone,” he added. “You understand? I need complete discretion on this.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “And one more thing, Rushing.”

    She waited.

    “Don’t let the yokels jerk you around.”

    TARA DROVE NORTH on the highway hemmed in by towering trees. Barely an hour out of the city, she could already feel the change as they passed through the Pine Curtain. The night seemed thicker here, darker. She leaned forward, peering through the windshield at the moonless sky.

    “Next exit,” M.J. said, consulting the map on her phone. “We’re looking for Dunn’s Road.”

    Tara glanced at the agent beside her. M. J. Martinez was a rookie, not even a year on the job.

    “You know, it’s after one,” M.J. said, looking at Tara. “I can’t believe I’m even awake right now. I’ve had about three hours’ sleep in the past three days.”

    Tara took the exit ramp. “At least you got a shower. I smell like gym socks.”

    M.J. didn’t deny it. She’d been involved in the raid, too, but from a planning perspective. In her former life, Martinez had been a tax attorney. She was smart and organized but green when it came to fieldwork. Tara had her HPD experience plus SWAT training under her belt, so she tended to be more hands-on.

    “This is it,” M.J. said. “Dunn’s Road. Hang a right.”

    Tara slowed, squinting at a sign marking a narrow road. Her headlights swept across tree trunks. The thicket gave way to jagged stumps, and Tara switched to brights. She thought the stumps looked ominous until the houses came into view, ramshackle wooden structures with sagging porches. Rusted septic tanks and dismantled cars littered the yards. Some of the homes were strangled by kudzu and had plywood covering the windows. None had seen a coat of paint in decades, unless you counted graffiti.

    They passed the charred carcass of a house, and M.J. looked at her. “Meth lab?”

    “Good bet.”

    The houses petered out, and so did the pavement. M.J. consulted her phone again because Tara’s ancient Ford didn’t have a GPS. The Blue Beast barely had a working heater. But the tires were new, and the four-wheel drive could handle anything. Tara changed the oil religiously so it wouldn’t crap out on her.

    “Looks like we’re getting close,” M.J. said, studying her screen. Instead of an address, Jacobs had provided her with GPS coordinates, along with the interesting factoid that FBI participation in this matter—whatever it was—had come at the request of the Honorable Wyatt H. Mooring, a federal judge.

    “Veer left,” M.J. instructed.

    Tara buzzed down the windows, filling the SUV with cold, damp air that smelled faintly of rotten eggs. It was cloudy out but no rain in the forecast, although that was yet another aspect of tonight that might not turn out as planned.

    “We should be veering left again,” M.J. said, “after what looks like maybe a creek?”

    They dipped down over a low-water bridge and heard the rush of water.

    “Logging route,” Tara said, noting the clear-cuts on either side. They pitched and bumped over the rutted road, passing a rickety cistern and another rusted septic tank. They rattled over a cattle guard and passed through a gap in a barbed-wire fence. Tara glanced around but didn’t see any livestock, or any other creature for that matter. Clear-cuts gave way to trees again, and a sense of foreboding settled in her stomach as they moved deeper into the woods. The road narrowed until the tree trunks felt like they were closing in.

    She looked at M.J., wide-eyed and tense in the seat beside her.

    “What the hell are we doing here?” M.J. asked, voicing the question in Tara’s mind.

    “I think Judge Mooring’s from around here. Grew up in Dunn’s Landing.”

    As if that explained why their boss had sent them scrambling into the forest in the dead of the night.

    M.J. looked at her. “What’s the difference between God and a federal judge?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “God doesn’t think he’s a federal judge.”

    Tara smiled, for what seemed like the first time in days.

    A flicker of light caught her eye, a flash of white through the tree trunks. Her smile dropped.

    “Whatever this is, I think we found it.”

    EMERGENCY VEHICLES LINED the side of the road—sheriff’s units, an ambulance, a red pickup truck with the emblem of a local fire department on the door. A khaki-clad deputy in a ten-gallon hat waved them down.

    Tara handed her ID through the window. “Special Agent Tara Rushing, FBI.”

    He examined her creds, then ducked his head down and peered into the window as M.J. held up her badge.

    He hesitated and then passed Tara’s ID back. “Pull around to the right there. Watch the barricades.”

    Tara pulled around as instructed and parked beside a white crime-scene van.

    M.J. got out first, attracting immediate notice from the huddle of lawmen milling beside the red pickup. They looked her up and down, taking in her tailored gray slacks and crisp white button-down. Then again, maybe it was her curves they were noticing or the lush dark hair that cascaded down her back.

    Tara pushed open her door. Tall and willowy, she attracted stares, too, but for a different reason. She was still geared up from the raid in tactical pants and Oakley assault boots, with handcuffs tucked into her waistband and her Glock snug against her hip. Her curly brown hair was pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail. She grabbed her FBI windbreaker from the backseat, and the men eyed her coolly as she zipped into it.

    Another deputy hustled over.

    “Who’s in charge of this crime scene?” Tara asked, flashing her creds.

    He glanced at her ID, then her face. The man was short and stocky and smelled like vomit.

    “That’d be Sheriff Ingram.” He cast a glance behind him, where the light show continued deep in the woods.

    “I’d like a word with him.”

    He looked at her.

    “Please.”

    He darted a glance at M.J., then traipsed off down a narrow trail marked with yellow scene tape.

    The men continued to stare, but Tara ignored them and surveyed her surroundings. Someone had hooked a camping lantern to a nail on a nearby tree, illuminating a round clearing with a crude fire pit at the center. Old tires and tree stumps surrounded the pit, along with beer cans and cigarette butts. Someone had cordoned off the area with yellow tape and placed evidence markers near the cans and butts.

    Tara studied the ground outside the tape, where an alarming number of tire tracks crisscrossed the loamy soil.

    Another khaki uniform approached her, no hat this time. “Who are you?” he demanded.

    “Sheriff Ingram?”

    A brisk nod.

    “Special Agent Tara Rushing.” She showed her ID again, but he didn’t look. “And Special Agent Maria Jose Martinez.”

    If he was surprised the FBI had shown up at his crime scene, he didn’t show it.

    “We’re here at the request of Judge Wyatt Mooring,” M.J. added.

    He glanced at her, then back at Tara.

    With his brawny build and high-and-tight haircut, Sheriff Ingram looked like a Texas good old boy. But Tara didn’t want to underestimate him. His eyes telegraphed intelligence, and he seemed to be carefully weighing his options. He stepped closer and rested his hands on his gun belt.

    “I got a homicide.” He nodded toward the woods. “Female victim. No ID, no clothes, no vehicle. Long story short, I don’t have a lot.”

    His gaze settled on Tara, and her shoulders tensed. She could feel something coming.

    “What I do have is an abandoned Lexus down at Silver Springs Park,” he said. “Registered to Catalina Reyes.”

    “Catalina Reyes,” Tara repeated.

    “That’s right. She was last seen there yesterday evening. Didn’t show up for work today.”

    Tara glanced at M.J., communicating silently. Holy crap. She looked back at the sheriff. “How far’s this park?” she asked.

    “Twenty miles due southa here.”

    A deputy strode up to them. “Sheriff, you need to come see this.”

    Ingram trudged off, leaving Tara and M.J. staring at each other in the glare of the lantern.

    Catalina Reyes was a north Houston businesswoman who’d made a run for U.S. Congress in the last election. She’d been a lightning rod for controversy since the moment she announced her candidacy.

    “She was getting death threats, wasn’t she?” M.J. said.

    “I think so.”

    Tara turned to look at the forest, where police had set up klieg lights around the inner crime scene. Workers in white Tyvek suits moved around, probably CSIs or ME’s assistants. Tara saw the strobe of a camera flash. She noted more deputies with flashlights combing a path deep within the woods. They must have assumed that the killer accessed the site from the east, and Tara hoped to hell they were right, because whatever evidence might have been recovered from the route Tara had used had been obliterated by boots and tires.

    The Cypress County Sheriff’s Department didn’t see many homicides and probably had little to no experience handling anything this big.

    If, in fact, the victim was Catalina Reyes.

    Tara bit the inside of her lip, a habit she caved into when she was nervous. Why had Jacobs sent them? Not just agents but specifically her and M.J.? As experience went, Tara came up short and Martinez was green as grass.

    M.J. muttered something beside her.

    “What?” Tara asked.

    She started to answer, but Ingram approached. Tara looked at him, and she knew—she knew—that how she handled the next few moments would affect everything.

    “Sheriff, the Bureau would like to help here,” Tara said. “We can have an evidence response team on-site within an hour.”

    He folded his arms over his chest. “I think we got a handle on it.”

    Just what she’d thought he’d say. “I’d like to see the crime scene,” she told him.

    He gave her a hard look that said, No you wouldn’t, little lady. But Tara stubbornly held his gaze. “Suit yourself,” he said, setting off.

    She followed him, with M.J. close behind. They moved through the trees along a path marked by LED traffic flares. The air smelled of damp pine, but as they neared the bright hive of activity, the sickly smell of death overtook everything. Ingram stepped aside, and Tara nearly tripped over a forensic photographer crouched on the ground aiming her camera at the body sprawled in the dirt.

    Pale face, slack jaw. She looked almost peaceful . . . except for the horrific violence below her neck.

    Tara’s throat burned.

    M.J. lurched back, bumping into a tree. She turned and threw up.

    Think, Tara ordered herself. She forced herself to step closer and study the scene.

    A five-foot radius around the body had been marked off with metal stakes connected by orange twine. Only an ME’s assistant in white coveralls operated within the inner perimeter. He knelt beside the victim, jotting notes on a clipboard.

    Tara’s heart pounded. Her mind whirled. She drew air into her lungs and forced herself to slow down. She felt Ingram’s gaze on her and tried to block it out.

    Think.

    Rigor mortis had passed. Even with the cool weather, she’d been dead at least twelve hours. No obvious bruising on her arms or legs. Her feet were spread apart. Damp leaves clung to her calves. Toenail polish—dark pink. Tara looked at her arms. No visible abrasions, but the left hand was bent at a strange angle.

    And her body . . . Tara forced herself to look without flinching. The woman had been sliced open from her sternum to her navel and eviscerated. Her organs glistened in the klieg lights.

    Tara walked around, careful not to get in the photographer’s way as she studied the victim’s face again. The right side was partly covered by a curtain of dark hair.

    “Who called it in?” She glanced at Ingram.

    “Couple of teenagers.” He nodded back toward the fire pit. “This whole area’s a hangout. Kids come out to smoke pot, have sex, whatever they want. They’re at the station house,” he added, answering her next question. “I got one of my deputies interviewing them.”

    “He’s finished up.”

    Tara glanced to her left, where the deputy she’d met earlier was slouched against a tree. He looked queasy, and she understood now why his breath smelled rancid.

    “He got ’em on videotape,” the deputy said. “Interviewed both of them side by side.”

    Tara looked at Ingram. “I’d like to talk to them.”

    “Who, the kids?”

    “Yes.”

    “Tonight?”

    “The sooner the better.”

    He gazed at her for a long moment, then stalked off.

    Tara turned to M.J., who was standing off to the side looking shell-shocked. Tara arched her brows in a silent question, and M.J. answered with a nod.

    The deputy turned and shot tobacco juice at the ground.

    “Don’t spit on the crime scene,” Tara said, stepping around the photographer.

    The deputy’s face flushed, and his nostrils flared.

    “We’ll interview them separately,” Tara told M.J. “Although it may be too late to get a straight story.”

    The photographer scrolled through her camera. “I have what I need here,” she told the ME’s people. “You guys are good to go.”

    The one holding the stretcher stepped carefully over the orange twine and crouched down beside the corpse. His partner unfurled a body bag.

    Tara watched uneasily. They were taking away the body now, processing the scene, for better or for worse. Whatever chance Tara had had to involve the Bureau at this critical point in the investigation was gone. If that had been her boss’s purpose in sending her here, then she’d already failed.

    But she sensed there was more to it.

    A knot of tension formed in her chest as she cast her gaze around the scene. The fire pit had been surrounded by evidence markers, but here near the body there were precious few.

    Tara glanced at the deputy watching her sullenly from against the tree. She forced her attention back to the victim. An ME’s assistant tucked the hands into paper bags, and Tara felt a twinge of relief watching his skilled movements.

    Tara checked her watch. Almost two. She turned her gaze toward the dense thicket and shivered, suddenly cold to her bones.

    How the hell had she ended up at this backwoods horror show? She felt unwelcome. Unsure of herself. She was even less sure of the politics in play, only that they involved a right-leaning judge and a left-leaning politician, plus a territorial sheriff backed by hostile troops.

    She glanced at M.J. and wondered if she was having similar thoughts. This case was a disaster, and they’d barely started. The circumstances could hardly be worse.

    A flash of light above the treetops, followed by a low rumble. Tara tipped her gaze up to the sky.

    It started to rain.

  • Meet the Author

    New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin is the author of the Tracers series, the Alpha Crew series, the Moreno & Hart series and several other novels. A two-time RITA Award winner and the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award, she lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book. Visit her website atLauraGriffin.com and on Facebook at Facebook.com/LauraGriffinAuthor.

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    Shadow Fall 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Tough gal with hidden vulnerabilities. Tougher guy with hidden tenderness. Great storyline. What more could you want?
    blonde_betty More than 1 year ago
    Shadow Fall is a solid procedural mystery with light romantic elements. The focus is definitely on finding the killer as opposed to bringing the hero and heroine together. As with Griffin’s other works, the plot is masterfully tied together and easily sucks readers in. If you haven’t read any of the other Tracers series this one is a good place to start. Though there are appearances by previous characters this one is a good launching point.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am looking forward to the next book.
    sdeets More than 1 year ago
    Special Agent Tara Rushing is brought in to hunt down a serial killer. Everyone is a suspect including the sexy Liam Wolfe, ex-marine and head of Wolfe Security. This story is fast paced and filled with twists and turns. Tara wants to trust Liam, but evidence continues to point to him or one of his team. About the time you think you know who the killer is, you figure out that you're wrong. The story is well developed and keeps your attention until all unfolds. Very good and highly recommend.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    PJ16 More than 1 year ago
    A romantic thriller that kept me guessing. Dynamic characters in Liam and Tara and great supporting characters in MJ and Jeremy. Kept me on the edge wanting more with some sparks between the main characters. I love the tracers series and the Delphi Center and can't wait for the next book.
    MTSmith More than 1 year ago
    This story kept me on the edge of my seat. It's gripping, suspenseful, engaging, and powerful. This is suspense done right. The focus was the crime Tara was sent to investigate, which meant there wasn't a lot of page space for Liam and Tara's relationship. To those that have read Ms. Griffin's work before, this might not be a surprise to you. It was for me but I'd just come off a high of insta-love books, lol. That doesn't mean they weren't attracted to one another though. They were. That attraction ran parallel to their individual needs to always be in control, to be the top dog on the field and in the bedroom. It made for interesting moments, seeing the clash of wills, and I did chuckle a few times as I read their interactions. But they were perfect together. With Liam's client dead and mutilated, and a serial killer on the loose attacking unsuspecting women, they had their work cut out to stop the person responsible before the body count got any higher. I haven't read a suspense story like this in quite a while and I'm so glad I did. It was a welcome break from what's in my TBR pile. Ms. Griffin's storytelling ability is amazing. Her words created pictures, enabled me to see in my head what was going on in the book. Fast-paced but thorough, this is one suspense lovers will enjoy while reading. 4.5* (Received from NetGalley via Tasty Book Tours for an honest review)
    BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
    Riveting suspense, a story so well braided together, it is nearly impossible to put it down until the end. I inhaled this story, and loved every moment of it. The characters are compelling, with layers and depth that allure the reader's mind. There's nothing straight forward or easy with them, they are real, tough, loyal, and focused on the task. But they have their weaknesses and low points as well, even though they try their best to hide them. The story starts with some sickly intense moments of action. And the momentum just keeps building from that point on. The crimes committed are cruel and callous. The clues keep coming in, there's never a lull moment in the investigation, never a dull minute with Tess and Liam. The chemistry between them is fierce, torrid. The attraction, as improper as it seems at first, is burning and disruptive. Tess keeps falling, scared of her feelings, not knowing if she is alone with them or not. Liam seems so confident, at all times, he anticipates that Tess is responding to his feelings, trying to be patient, waiting on her. The connection between them is unique, the similarities in their personalities uncanny. I wish there would have been a little more developed with the relationship, a little more time they had together. There was also a one development with Liam, a possible relation with an ex-client, that was left hanging, and he was kissing Tess shortly thereafter. The energy, pressure, and stress the task force is under, to find the killer in time, before they have more victims in their hands, before more innocent women lose their lives, is absorbing. You can feel the strain they are under, and the urgency to solve the mystery. For any and all romantic suspense fans, this is a story not to be missed, very highly recommended ~ Five Spoons!
    Majorly_Delicious More than 1 year ago
    Fast paced and addicting is the best way to describe this book. Once you start you won't want to put it down till you finish! I love a great romantic suspense story. Tara Rushing is a FBI agent and is having a difficult time recouping from a case that has left her mentally exhausted. All she needed was a little time to recover and get her bearing but instead she is sent to a small Texas town to look into the murder of a former female politician. Tara discovers the local police, and especially the sheriff, don't want her there so she must always be one step ahead of them if she is going to figure this case out. Liam Wolfe, a former Marine who survived Afghanistan, now runs a top security firm with some of his former marine buddies. When a murder takes place on his land, Liam finds himself as prime suspect #1. The sheriff is looking to place the murder on Liam but Tara soon discovers that Liam has a solid alibi. When a second murder happens these two find themselves in a race to find the killer before another casualty. Liam and Tara have an immediate attraction to one another but do their best to keep their feelings hidden. As danger grows so do their feelings and the chemistry when these two finally come together is electrifying. While the romance is a great aspect of the book it does not take away from the mystery and suspense element at all. If you love a good romantic suspense then I would highly recommend this book. I received an eARC of this book compliments of the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review and opinion. All ratings and opinions stated are my own.
    My_Peace More than 1 year ago
    With a twisting and at times nerve wracking plot, Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin was an easy book to jump into and stay in. Tara is a special FBI Agent fresh off a very difficult case who is thrown right into the next one. Liam, a security professional and former Marine is who the local law enforcement suspects, but Tara isn't so sure... Besides coincidences and a strong attraction to each other, Tara is mostly convinced Liam is not a killer. As the body count escalates and their passion sparks, someone deadly is not going to stop. Tara works with the Delphi Center and Liam to find the truth, but will it be too late? Has Tara trusted the right person? I enjoyed this fast paced, well written book. I loved all the technical forensic aspects, and Laura has obviously researched her subject very well. This part of Shadow Fall makes it a very interesting read! I liked the main characters, Tara and Liam. They both have the strong personalities that this plot required. I liked how Laura brought them together and the personal/professional conflict that Tara struggled with was believable. So was the attraction! I did feel that there were parts of Tara I was missing and would like to have got to know her and her background better so that I could understand her more. Liam was a character I felt compelled to get to know! He is a bit mysterious and close mouthed at times, and this made him a great character who was easy to want to know. The relationship between the two of them was as intriguing and worked well with the suspenseful plot. They mystery and suspense was well worked through Shadow Fall, and Laura kept me guessing. I liked how Laura wrote to balance the darkness of a killer with the hope of love. I'd recommend Shadow Fall to any romantic suspense reader.
    beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
    Such a well-written suspense, with an absolutely delicious romance! In Shadow Fall, FBI Special agent Tara Rushing is sent to rural Texas to solve a murder--a murder that, it soon becomes obvious, isn't a solitary event but the work of a serial killer. The first chapter actually starts out from the murdered woman's POV--and cuts off just as we see her recognize her killer and realize what he's there for...and then we have no idea who "he" is for 95% of the story. Just awesome! I loved Tara and Liam. Both have been alone--and seemingly content to stay that way--for quite some time and are thrown for a loop when they meet and feel the immediate attraction. The romance feels like it's a slow build, though it really isn't--the entire story takes place over just days, but with the speed that everything else is happening: the body count piling up, the threats to Tara's life and the suspicion thrown over Liam--the pace of their relationship feels almost leisurely by comparison. By the end I bought into it 100%--it sure didn't feel like I'd just met them, let alone that they were still virtual strangers anymore. Ms. Griffin did a great job of showing how difficult it still can be to be a woman in the man's world that is law enforcement, especially in rural Texas. Tara was a great character, a strong female lead who hides her vulnerability well--though of course not from Liam. He's able to see beneath the kick-butt special agent exterior to the woman beneath, and even as he's falling for her (and she's investigating the possible role he might have in the whole thing!) he's also respecting the heck out of the job she's doing and goading her into doing an even better one. I loved that he was the one moving forward in their relationship, while she was the one that was resisting--or trying like heck, anyway--their pull. He smelled like rain and wet leather. His clothes were freezing. But his lips were warm, and she kissed him back, wishing she didn't want what he was offering, wishing she didn't need it, but she did. He's called her a liar, and he was right. For once in her life, she didn't want to be alone. She wanted him, and the sharp intensity of it scares her. He smelled so good, and she was so tired of feeling alone all the time. She needed the connection with him, however brief, even if it was only about lust or temptation or pity. She needed it anyway. So. Good. I admit I would have liked to know more about some things--more concrete details about Tara's childhood and why (besides the obvious!) she was so affected by the case she worked just prior to being sent to Cypress County, and who the heck Liam went to visit (and kissed!) when she was tailing him (did he do it on purpose, knowing she was watching?) I'd also love to see more of what's developing between Liam's second-in-command Jeremy and MJ, Tara's partner on this case. Overall, though, this was just one heck of a well-written, suspenseful page turner. I have no idea why I haven't read anything in this series--or by Laura Griffin--before, but you'd better believe that this won't stay my "only" for long! Shadow Fall worked just fine as a standalone--I'm sure if I'd read any of the other series books it would have been great to see characters from them play a part in solving Tara and Liam's mystery; but now I can look forward to going back and discovering their stories in the future. :) Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
    BetweenMyBookendz More than 1 year ago
    From the edge-of-your-seat suspenseful Prologue to the very last line, Laura Griffin’s latest entry in her “Tracers” series is a heart-pounding, engrossing read! Grant it, I am a fan of the series and have read all the books, but for Book Number 9 in a series to be such a standout? Amazing…...if I could, I would give Shadow Fall 6 stars! The Tracer series is built around the Delphi Center, and although favorite characters like Kelsey Quinn and Mia Voss appear, the main characters are new. When we meet FBI Agent Tara Rushing, she is not sitting behind a desk in her business suit, all spit and polish. No, our girl Tara is a bona-fide tough girl - just off a raid, still in her tactical pants (she is on the SWAT team) and feeling her adrenaline wane. We meet Alpha-girl at a moment of reflection - a case just concluded with a successful raid, yet she feels empty, numb. Just as she is pulling up to her home, a phone call from her boss sends her north of Houston to the scene of a brutal murder. The who? what? why? goes well past the crime itself...what is the FBI doing involved in this case? Is the FBI even officially involved? Tara is suspicious of everything and everyone surrounding this crime. Then enters Liam Wolfe. A security expert with more secrets than just a hidden compound, Tara can feel that Liam knows more than he is letting on. The man is an enigma to Tara, but she knows that he is a piece to the puzzle…. Liam Wolfe has a highly successful security firm that caters to the rich, political and famous. The killing of his former client and friend puts Liam on the suspect list and his firm on the radar of the police and FBI. Solving the crime becomes personal for Liam and he refuses to back off, no matter what the intriguing FBI agent tells him. Suspicions and zinging chemistry swirl around and between Liam and Tara as they attempt to unravel the mystery. As with Ms. Griffin’s previous books, the writing is smooth and captivating; I could not put the book down. Watching two equally strong individuals battle with each other and their emotions for supremacy both professionally with the case and with their romance was fascinating. This was a suspenseful read with just a perfect amount of intensity and romance. And Jeremy and M.J.? Hmmmm, fingers are crossed that we meet those two again! I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    debb323 More than 1 year ago
    This story starts off with a bang and never slows down. It begins with a murder of a well-known woman and Tara an FBI agent is on the case. She has to deal with the local yahoos who think women are not good cops. Tara wants nothing to do with men, that is, until she meets Liam. I loved this book from the first paragraph. The author had me hooked. Love Tara, she’s a strong woman who is trying to make it in a man’s world. Also, love Liam because they complement one another. I was never bored and never guessed who the killer was. I would recommend her to my friends. Well done. I was gifted this ebook in return for an honest review.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    SHADOW FALL is full of intense suspense and HOT romance between Tara and Liam , had me hooked from beginning to end ! !!!!!!!!??????
    ELF-thereadingaddict More than 1 year ago
    A wonderful addition to an addicting romantic suspense series! “Shadow Fall” by Laura Griffin is part of the ‘Tracers’ series and follows FBI Special Agent Tara Rushing who is thrust into a murder investigation that threatens to spiral out of control. She must deal with not only the hostility and lack of cooperation by the local law enforcement, but also with the uncomfortable feelings evoked by a potential suspect, Liam Wolfe. The quest to solve the case necessitates that she work with all kinds of resources, and involving the experts at the Delphi Center gives her a wealth of information, but she must rely on her instincts and her guts to catch a killer and distinguish between those who would help and those who would harm, and lives depend on her making the right call. This exciting romantic suspense story is one of those that captures the attention immediately and ratchets up the tension to keep one enthralled throughout the entire journey. The characters are revealed with the author’s usual dexterity, with additional layers gradually added to give them depth and charisma. I love that the heroine is a warrior driven to protect, unique in her inclusion on a SWAT team, and capable of impressing and surprising the hero. Her tenacity and ferocity make her a perfect addition to the series and the mystery and quiet competence that surround the hero makes him a wonderful foil for her. I also appreciate that some of the secondary characters manage to be distinctive and I hope that they get larger roles in subsequent stories as I would love to learn more about them. Sadly, some of those in the background are almost stereotypical but I get the feeling that this is intentional, in order to confuse the issues in places. One should be forewarned that there is a fair degree of violence but this is one of those stories that keeps the reader captivated and a little jumpy in the best way and compelled to lose sleep in order to see what happens. This is a great addition to an excellent series and I look forward to reading addition stories featuring these fascinating folks. © Night Owl Reviews I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.
    Bookeroo More than 1 year ago
    Special Agent Tara Rushing is sent to a mysterious crime scene and she's unsure of exactly why she's been put on this case. The locals aren't too fond of her as she tries to get involved in a police matter they consider is in their own territory. When the local sheriff wants to put security specialist Liam Wolfe in the spotlight as the main suspect, Tara is unsure of not only his guilt, but her intense physical attraction to him. Liam knows this area like the back of his hand. Can Tara trust his expertise or is he guilty of more than he's letting on? With each Tracers novel I read, I'm more and more impressed with author Laura Griffin. Her expertise in the romantic suspense genre can't be matched. Shadow Fall is impressive with the details and how they all connect to lead you through an intense, edge-of-your-seat page turner you can't put down. And ha!, you certainly wouldn't want to put it down! Ms. Griffin keeps you completely enthralled and she's so good with this genre, you can never guess who the killer is. The characters work well together and it's easy to root for the hero and heroine. Liam is the ultimate hero wanting to protect Tara with his life. The suspense, along with the added romance is always wrapped up with such a well written plot, with mysterious character by-play, and intricate puzzle pieces that slowly come together as the story progresses. If you haven't gotten involved in one of Ms. Griffin's thought-provoking Tracer novels, you are definitely missing out! I dare you to read Shadow Fall and not be impressed! I can hardly wait for Deep Dark, book 10 in the Tracer Series! Shadow Fall is not only a MUST READ, but a KEEPER too! 5 Stars!
    CrystalCB More than 1 year ago
    Are you looking for a fabulous romantic suspense story that will keep you on the edge of your seat while warming up your fall nights? May I suggest grabbing a copy of Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin? Shadow Fall captivated my attention from page one and kept me turning pages to see what could possibly happen next.I love a great mystery with spellbinding suspense and a nice dose of romance. Tara Rushing is a strong very intelligent FBI agent. Under the tough exterior there is a kind caring lady that really cares about the cases she works. Tara has a few issues and tough cases from her past that pushes her to get to the bottom of the killings quickly before anyone else is hurt. Liam Wolfe has a history in military and security. He and his team provide security and protection to their clients. Liam finds himself on the suspect list of the local law enforcement. The attraction between Liam and Tara is simming hot. They both try to fight their attraction to each other for the good of the case. However their attraction for each other turns out to be a stronger force than these two are able to fight off. Laura Griffin has once again written another fabulous installation in the Tracers series. Ms. Griffin has a talent for writing strong characters with interesting past and intriguing stories. Shadow Fall is certainly no exception. The storyline is packed full of dangerous situation and suspense that had me so captivated I could not put this book down. I found myself flipping pages quickly to see what was going to happen next and who in the world was behind the murders. I don't want to tell you too much about the storyline because I know you are going to want to read all the twists and turns for yourself. I was taken by complete surprise to learn who was behind the horrific events. Shadow Fall is the ninth story in the terrific Tracers series. Don't worry if you haven't had a chance to read all the previous tracers books, each book can easily be read as a stand alone. I will be anxiously awaiting Laura Griffin's next release. I can't wait to see what intense storyline she comes up with next to keep us lucky readers in suspense and well entertained. I was given the opportunity to read this great book so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Shadow Fall.
    TheSassyBookster More than 1 year ago
    SHADOW FALL is a completely absorbing and very interesting read, sure to keep readers on the edge as they get drawn into the search for a brutal killer in this latest installment of the Tracers series! Just off a very draining case, FBI Special Agent Tara Rushing finds herself thrust into a high profile case with the gruesome murder of a local female politician. Tara is the ideal person to lead the investigation due to her ties to the area, but faced with less than cooperative local authorities and stonewalled by ex-Marine and personal security expert Liam Stone, a person of interest in the case, Tara's investigation is at a standstill. However, the discovery of more bodies and their connection to the dead politician points to the possibility of a serial killer on the loose, not a politically motivated murder as was initially thought. Tara needs Liam's help now more than ever because all the evidence indicates that the killer they are up against is well trained and may be a part of law enforcement. Liam and his security outfit may be the key to solving the murders and getting the killer behind bars and the clocking is ticking because the media attention is exactly what the killer wants and the body count will continue to increase until he's stopped. Tara is a very complicated character. As a former police officer, an FBI agent and the only woman in her SWAT team, Tara is driven and independent but all too aware of the double standard that applies to a woman in her profession, so when she finds herself attracted to the main suspect in her investigation, she must choose between doing her job and giving in to her desires. Or can she do both? Is she willing to let down her guard and trust in someone else? Liam Wolfe is the kind of man any woman wants. Successful, attractive, solid and protective, he takes one look at Tara and it's game over. The fact that he is a person of interest in the investigation complicates things between them but he is not willing to let that slow him down or step aside and let Tara chase after the killer by herself. Now he has to convince her to open up to him while at the same time lending his expertise to help solve her case and protecting her while she does her job, especially because she fits the victim profile perfectly. Anyone who enjoys watching any of the crime procedural shows on TV, especially the CSI shows will definitely love SHADOW FALL because of its emphasis on the investigative and analytic aspects of crime solving. It's fast paced, with a perfect combination of suspense and romance, and a great plot. I know that I was busy trying to figure out who the killer was with every page I turned. While SHADOW FALL is a completely engaging piece of romantic suspense writing, I love Ms. Griffin's nod to the complex role of women in traditionally male careers. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
    JWReinhold More than 1 year ago
    Shadow Fall is a perfect example of how suspense and romance is blended into a a great read! Laura pulls you in from the first page giving you well developed characters that are full of depth and a suspenseful story that will keep you guessing! Special Agent Tara Rushing is sent to the crime scene of the murder of a controversial politician and it is clear from the start that the local sheriff and his good old boys club isn't happy with her being there. They are ready to narrow their suspect list to ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe but to Tara the facts just don't add up and with the help of the experts at the elite Delphi Center she sets out to find the real killer. Liam Wolfe is a hard man to find anything about and that is the way he wants it. Its his job to protect his clients and no distractions can be allowed but Tara Rushing is proving to be a big distraction. He is inexplicably drawn to her and as he finds himself being investigated for the murder of one of his ex-clients he finds a need to keep her safe. From the start the sparks between Tara and Liam are hot and things just keep getting hotter as Tara investigates what is beginning to look like a serial killer, a killer looking for recognition! Another great thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Tracers series!
    KTBookReviews1 More than 1 year ago
    Perfection! With a master’s touch, Griffin delivers yet another great addition to the Tracers series. Captivating and completely engrossing are the main characters Tara and Liam. With each clue, revelation, and obstacle I was immersed in this world of serial killer and law enforcement. The happenings here are ripped from the headlines and prove to be incredibly difficult to put down once you open the cover of Shadow Fall. Smart, yet weathered and exhausted is special agent Tara Rushing. She has a chip the size of Texas on her shoulder as she tries to solve this case while still reeling from her previous one. She meets the dry yet absolutely captivating security expert Liam Wolfe. From the moment they meet you just know that they will be a force to be reckoned with. Feeling blocked by local law enforcement while trying to head a task force is no easy feat. Tara must take chances and make decisions to bring a killer to heel before more women turn up dead. Smart, compelling, and brilliantly written: Shadow Fall is a force all its own proving that this series just keeps getting better. 5 STARS
    gmfuhlman More than 1 year ago
    This story starts off with the disappearance of a prominent Politician name Catalina Reyes. Tara Rushing, is a FBI Special Agent who is sent to a rural Texas area to investigate a murder that turn out to be more than just a missing Politician. Liam Wolf, is a retire captain in the Marine. After his last tour in Afghanistan’s he started his own personal security company. Liam is a security consultant, or you could also call him an expert who would be someone bodyguard or suggest better a security system and whatever he could do to keep his client safe. Tara and Liam characters were intriguing which made this such a page turner. For one thing to have Tara being an FBI agent and Liam a former Marine makes for great chemistry together. Then you throw in clues, revelation, and obstacle that have you immersed in the world of a serial killer. Then you throw in the law enforcement to booth. Laura Griffin, has written the right combination of mystery, suspense and forensic science with some intrigue. Of course we can’t leave out romance. If you haven’t read any of her other Tracers books, you can’t miss this one. This is a fast paced read that feels like you are on a roller coaster that keeps you guessing just who the killer is.
    NHarrisLv2Read More than 1 year ago
    What can I say? Laura Griffin never disappoints. I have yet to find a novel she's written that doesn't keep me wrapped up in every detail of the story. This installment is no exception. Her writing is phenomenal. It's as if you're right there with every character- that you are part of the story. With action that keeps you on the edge of your seat intertwined with romance and suspense.... there's never a dull moment from cover to cover. Waiting for the next installment to the Tracer's series is the hardest part.
    KelliJo More than 1 year ago
    Griffin keeps you on the edge of your seat. The death of a somewhat controversial political figure brings FBI agents Tara and MJ on the case which quickly turns into a serial killer case. But now with the media coverage of the murder-turned-serial, the killer is excited - and killing more frequently. Liam knows the area, owns some of the land some of the bodies are found, military trained, and now owns his own security consulting firm. Tara is drawn to him, but must stay away because he could be the killer. But the more she learns, both about the cases and Liam, the more she knows he is not involved. She is hampered by small town good-ol'-boy mentality police, but Tara and Liam, along with MJ and Jeremy (one of Liam's employees and closest friends) figure out who the killer is - but will it be in time to save MJ?? Another excellent read from Laura Griffin.
    lep1211 More than 1 year ago
    I received a complimentary book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have always been a huge fan of Laura Griffin’s books, and I especially love her Tracers books. The Tracers books are romantic suspense books that always include an her intelligence and independence. Even so, he is always trying to protect her in spite of the fact that he respects her ability to take care of herself. In fact, Liam, the hero of this book actually says, “I know you don’t need me, Tara…. I want you to want me, anyway.” Shadow Fall begins with the discovery of a dead woman. As more women’s bodies are discovered, the police and the FBI realize they are dealing with a serial killer. Liam Wolf is an ex-marine who owns a security business. Unfortunately he also seems to be looking good for being the serial killer. The heroine, Special Agent Tara Rushing, is the FBI agent trying to solve crime. I highly recommend Shadow Fall! This book is an exciting suspense with non-stop action. Once I started this book, I could not put it down! Not only are the main characters interesting, but I also fell in love with the secondary characters (I hope they get their own books). I also always appreciate the fact that, even though the Tracer books are all related in some way, it is not necessary to read the books in order to understand the books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A great combination of mystery, suspense, forensic science and sizzling chemistry between Liam and Tara. This is the first Tracers book that I have read and I really enjoyed it. It is a great standalone but does a good job of introducing back characters from other books in this series. It captured my attention from the first page all the way to the last. I will be going back to read the other books in this series. Highly recommended!