Flame in the Dark

Flame in the Dark

by Faith Hunter

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451473332
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/05/2017
Series: Soulwood Series , #3
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 161,667
Product dimensions: 4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Faith Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series, including Cold Reign, Shadow Rites, Dark Heir, and Broken Soul; the Soulwood series, set in the world of Jane Yellowrock, including Curse on the Land and Blood of the Earth; and the Rogue Mage series, including Host, Seraphs, and Bloodring

Read an Excerpt


I walked the length of Turtle Point Lane near Jones Cove, my tactical flash illuminating the street and the ditch, trying to keep my eyes off the lawn and runnel of water and mature trees to the side. I should be in the trees, not here in the street, wasting my gifts on asphalt. I hated asphalt. To my touch, it was cold and dead and it stank of tar and gasoline.

But the K9 teams had dibs on the grass and were already in the backyard, the mundane tracker dog and the paranormal tracker dog, with their handlers, and lights so bright they hurt my eyes when I looked that way. As a paranormal investigator, I had to wait until the human and canine investigators were finished, so my scent didn't confuse the Para-K9s. Standard operating procedure and forensic protocol. But that didn't mean I had to like it.

Armed special weapons and tactics team-SWAT-officers, on loan from the city, patrolled the boundaries of the grounds, dressed in tactical gear and toting automatic rifles. Knoxville's rural/metro fire department patrolled inside the house along with uniformed cops, suited detectives, and federal and state agents in this multiagency emergency investigation.

The PsyLED SAC-special agent in charge of Unit Eighteen, and my boss-had put me to work on menial stuff to keep me off the grass and out of the way until the dogs were completely done. As a probationary agent, I did what I was told. Most of the time.

My steps were slow and deliberate, my eyes taking in everything. Crushed cigarette butts stained by yesterday's rain, soggy leaves, broken auto safety glass in tiny pellets, flattened aluminum cans in the brush and a depression: an energy drink and a lite beer. A gum box. Nothing new, from the last twenty-four hours. I was surprised at the amount of detritus on a street with such upmarket houses. Maybe the county had no street sweeper machine, or maybe the worst of the filth ended up hidden in the weeds, hard to see, making the street appear cleaner than it really was. Life was like that too, with lots of secrets hidden from sight.

I had already searched the entire street with the psy-meter 2.0, and put the bulky device in the truck. There were no odd levels of paranormal energies anywhere. A small spike on level four at the edge of the drive, but it went away. An anomaly. The psy-meter 2.0 measured four different kinds of paranormal energies called psysitopes, and the patterns could indicate a were-creature, a witch, an arcenciel, and even Welsh gwyllgi-shape-shifting devil dogs. I had nothing yet, but I needed onto the lawn to do a proper reading. I'd get my wish. Eventually.

I searched the area around a Lexus. Then a short row of BMWs. I took photos of each vehicle plate and sent them to JoJo, Unit Eighteen's second in command and best IT person, to cross-check the plate numbers with the guest list. The air was frigid and I was frozen, even though I was wearing long underwear, flannel-lined slacks, layered T-shirts, a heavy jacket, wool socks, and field boots. But then, along with uniformed county officers, I'd been at the grounds search for two hours, since the midnight call yanked me out of my nice warm bed and onto the job at a PsyLED crime scene. Field examination was scut work, the bane of all probie special agents, and we had found nothing on the street or driveway that might relate to the crime at the Ÿberfancy house on a cove of the Tennessee River.

To make me more miserable, because I had drunk down a half gallon of strong coffee, I had to use the ladies', pretty desperately. I stared at the Holloways' house, trying to figure out what to do.

"I just went to the back door and knocked," a voice said.

I whirled. I'd been so intent that I hadn't heard her walk up. A young female sheriff's deputy grinned at me. "Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you," she said.

"Oh. It's okay." But it wasn't. I was jumpy and ill at ease for reasons I didn't understand. There were woods with fairly mature trees all around, water in the cove nearby, and well-maintained lawns the length of the street, all full of life that should have made me feel at home. Instead I was jumpy. All that coffee maybe. "I'm Nell. Special Agent Ingram." I put out my hand and the woman shook it, businesslike.

"You don't remember me," she said, "but we met at the hospital during the outbreak of the slime molds back a few weeks. You gave me your keys and let my partner and me get unis out of your vehicle. I never got the chance to thank you. May Ree Holler, and my partner, Chris Skeeter." She pointed to a taller, skinny man up the road.

"Your mother escaped from God's Cloud of Glory Church, like I did," I said, referring to the polygamous church I grew up in. "I remember. Her name was Carla, right?"

May Ree grinned at me, seeming happy that I remembered. "That's my mama. Hard as nails and twice as strong." She indicated the dark all around. "Us females always get it the worst on these jobs. The male deputies can just go in the woods, but it isn't so easy for women. The caterer let me in to use the bathroom. Even gave me a pastry." May Ree was short and sturdy with a freckled face, brown hair, and wearing her uniform tight, showing off curves. She had a self-assuredness I would never achieve. Her hair was cropped short for safety in close-combat situations, but her lips were full and scarlet in the reflected glare from my flash, and she was fully made up with mascara and blush, even at the ungodly hour. "Go on. And if they offer you something to eat, bring me another one of those pink iced squares. I missed supper."

"I will. Thanks," I said. If I couldn't get her one I'd give her a snack from my truck when I came back out, presuming the bread wasn't frozen. Still moving my flash back and forth, covering my square yard with each pass, I walked from the street, up the drive, and to the back door, where I snapped off the light. I thought about knocking, but I had learned it was easier to apologize than to get permission. Not a lesson I had learned at the church where I was raised, but one I had learned since coming to work with PsyLED. I might get fussed at or written up, but no one would punish me for an infraction, like the churchmen did to the churchwomen.

Opening the door, I slid the flash into its sheath and stepped inside. The warmth and the smell of coffee hit me like a fist. I unbuttoned my jacket so my badge would show and blinked into the warmth. My frozen face felt as if it might melt and slide off onto the marble tile floor. I breathed for a few moments and tried to unclench my fingers. My skin ached. My teeth hurt.

The arctic front had no regard for global warming. It had hit, decided it liked the Tennessee Valley, and decided to stay. This was the second week of frigid temps. Snow I liked. This, not at all.

Once the worst of the personal melting was done, I looked around. The kitchen was empty, a room constructed of stone in various shades of gray on the floor and the cabinet tops and the backsplash. The owners must have taken down a whole mountain to get this much polished rock. The ceiling was vaulted with whitish wooden rafters and joists. Cabinets with the same kind of treated whitish wood rose ten feet high. A ladder that slid on a bronze rail was in the corner. The stove was gas with ten burners and a copper faucet over the stovetops, which looked handy unless one had a grease fire and thought to use water to put it out. There was a commercial-sized coffeemaker with a huge pot half-full, two big, double-glass-door refrigerators, and a separate massive two-door freezer. I spotted the small powder room off the kitchen and raced into it before anyone could come in and tell me to get outside and use the trees.

I was one of maybe twenty-five law enforcement officers and investigators from the various law enforcement branches and agencies called in to the shooting at the Holloway home. The FBI was here to rule out terrorism because a U.S. senator had been at the private political fund-raiser when the shooting started.

PsyLED-the Psychometry Law Enforcement Division of Homeland Security-was here because a vampire had been on-site too. The fire department was here because there had been a small fire. The local sheriff's LEOs were here because it was their jurisdiction.

Crime scene investigators were here because there were three dead bodies on the premises, though not the senator-he was shaken up but fine. The grounds search was because the shooter had come and gone on foot. It was complicated. But dead and wounded VIPs meant a lot of police presence and a shooting to solve, especially since the shooter got away clean.

When I came back out, the kitchen was still empty and I decided a bit more of the "ask permission later" was called for. Most anything was better than going back outside to search the road and paved areas for clues into a crime I had not been informed about. Two automatic dishwashers were running softly. The pastries were taped under waxed paper, including little pink iced squares. May Ree would be disappointed. There were four ovens, and all but one was still warm to the touch. I inspected the planters under the windows. At first glance they appeared to be full of herbs-basil, rosemary, thyme, and lemongrass-but the leaves were silk. Which was weird in a kitchen that looked as if someone loved to cook.

Trying to look as if I belonged, I wandered through a butler's pantry, complete with coffee bar, wet bar with dozens of decanters and bottles, and wine in a floor-to-ceiling special refrigerator. Beyond the butler's pantry, stairs went up on one side and down on the other, proving that the house had multiple levels, not just the two obvious from the outside. Picking up on the smell of smoke and scorched furnishings was easy here.

I stayed on the main level and meandered into a formal dining room on one side of the entry. There was more stone here too, and wood in the vaulted ceilings. The twelve-foot-long dining table was set for a party, though I didn't recognize any of the food except the whole salmon and the tenderloin of beef. It seemed a shame to let the food go to waste when May Ree was hungry, but there was blood on the floor in the doorway, leading from the back of the house to here. Since there was blood, the food itself might be evidence, so I kept my hands to myself and stepped carefully.

I had seen EMS units racing away as I drove up, so I knew there had been casualties, but seeing blood was unsettling. My gift rose up inside me, as if it was curious. Not trying to drink the blood down, not yet, because I wasn't outside, my hands buried in the earth, but more like a mouser cat who sees movement and crouches, trying to decide if this is something worth hunting.

A formal living room decorated with a Christmas tree and presents and fake electric candles in the windows was on the other side of the entry. It had real wood floors and a ten-foot ceiling with one of those frame things set in the middle to give it even more height. Maybe called a tray ceiling; I wasn't sure. Life in the church hadn't prepared me with a good grasp of architectural terminology. The entire room felt stiff and uncomfortable to me, maybe due to the fact that all the plants were fake. Fancy tables, tassels on heavy drapes, carved lamps, furniture that looked showroom-fresh. This wasn't a place to kick up your feet.

The room was full of people in fancy dress, and oddly, I knew two of them, Ming of Glass, the vampire Master of the City, and her bodyguard, a vamp I knew only as Yummy. Yummy flashed me a grin, one without fangs, which was nice, but she mouthed, Opossum, at me, which was a tease I didn't really need. I mouthed back, Ha-ha. Not. Yummy laughed.

All but three of the partygoers in the room looked irritated-two vamps and a human. Vamps tended to expressionless faces unless they were irritated or hungry, both of which were a sign of danger. The human was sitting on an ottoman, and he looked devastated, face pale, his tie undone, a crystal glass in one hand, dangling between his knees. I figured he was the husband of one of the dead. There was blood spatter on his shirt and dark suit coat. A man who didn't belong in the expensively dressed crowd stood beside him, taking notes. A fed, I figured as I slipped away, before I got caught, to wander some more.

I passed uniformed and suited LEOs here and there, two I recognized as local and one unknown wearing a far better-fitting suit. Probably another fed. The firefighters left through the front door, big boots clomping, and gathered on the street. Two crime scene techs raced into the room off to the side, carrying gear. No one paid any attention to me except to note that I had a badge on a lanyard around my neck. I hooked my thumbs into my pockets and moseyed over, probably a failure at looking as if I belonged.

The action was in the game room and the stench of fire grew heavier. Inside was a pool table, comfy reclining sofas, and a TV screen so big it took up most of the wall over the fireplace. On the opposite wall were antique guns in frames behind glass. Cast metal that might have been machine parts was protected within smaller frames. What looked like an ordinary wrench was centered on the wall in a heavy carved frame as if it was the most important thing hanging there. People commemorated the strangest things.

There were also lots of old, black-and-white photographs of stiff-looking people wearing stiff-looking clothes. Their hats and the way the women's clothes fitted said they were rich and pampered. The men's mustaches and thick facial hair made them look imposing, at least to themselves; they had that self-satisfied look about them, the expression of a hunter when he was posing with a sixteen-point buck. However, their expressions also made them look like their teeth hurt. Dental care was probably not very common back whenever these were taken.

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Flame in the Dark 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't believe it was possible for the third book in a series to be better than the first two, but Faith Hunter drafted a book that is better than the first two. The characters continue to grow and develop in a way that makes you cheer and cry for them. I only wish I could be there physically to give the hugs and share the coffee and banter. I can't wait for the next one, guess I'll just have to reread the Soulwood Series several times while I wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
" Faith Hunters third Soulwood novel knocks it out of the park. Nell Ingram continues to grow as a character and Psyled agent, Romance is afoot as well as mystery. Fantastic entry in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is so addictive. Faith knows how to pull you in and keep you wanting more. At first I was concern bc Nell seemed so distant from the team from where we left off. However, growth, change, adventure, excitement all jumped out of the page quickly and I could NOT put this book down. Loved all the changes that Nell experiences, physically and emotionally, which allow her to grow and ironically become more human. Hate how Faith keeps us begging for more with that tantalizing last scene!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best of the series! It's thrilling and hot, hot, hot! Nell continues to grow and so does the budding relationship with Occam. I need more!!!! More Nell. More Occam. More Unit 18. I can't wait to read what happens next!
LynnLTX More than 1 year ago
In this third book of Faith Hunter’s Soulwood series, Probie Special Agent Nell Ingram is starting to find her footing in her PsyLED unit which handles paranormal cases. They are called out to a situation after a senator is attacked by a sniper during a party and then, suspiciously, the home burns down. Nell’s special talents in communing with the land and animals is essential in figuring out what kind of paranormal her team is dealing with and why the senator and his family are targets. Several strange clues do not make sense to Nell and her team including her bosses, Soul, and Rick LaFleur who keep sending her out to read the land. They assist the local and federal law enforcement agents in an effort track the shooter and protect the senator’s family. While trying to handle her demanding workload, Nell also has the complicated task of figuring out how to help and protect her young sister, Mindy, who is like Nell: not human and also having her special talents and connection to the earth. Adding to all this, she is trying to deal with the bizarre and dangerous, almost sentient, vampire tree on church property, and the evil that is left of her old adversary, both of whom are causing problems so Nell has several challenges. Those of you who follow the Jane Yellowrock series will be interested to see how Rick fares after his last encounter with Jane. Life is weighing heavily on the former player and ladies’ man who is still learning to deal with his recent ability to finally shift. With the full moon coming soon, Rick and Occam have catty issues to deal with adding to the fun. So much of the townie world is still new to Nell including Occam’s romantic interest. Since they work together, Nell has to figure out not only what she wants, but how to deal with it on the job. She constantly fights with learned behaviors leftover from growing up in an extremely restrictive fundamentalist church coupled with her experiences as a very young wife and widow. In this book, Nell’s confidence in her skills and determination to be her own woman unfettered by the past figure greatly. She likes who she is becoming, but all the new complicated feelings especially for Occam, new people in her life, and her evolving connection to Soulwood keeps Nell very unsettled indeed. Faith Hunter always gives her readers much to chew on concerning her characters, their complicated and often dangerous jobs, and complex relationships. Nell is a captivating woman whose continued evolution is quite unique and fascinating to watch. The unfolding story of what kind of being Nell is with her unusual growing abilities continues to be an exciting tale to be told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars. I think this is becoming my favorite series and I am already greedy for the next story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Faith Hunter continues to grow and surprise me. Some of her first books were mysteries, good, but she's grown and her work improves with every book. Nell Ingram is the most unusual urban fantasy protagonist I've ever read--and this was the best book so far. Caught investigating a series of arson and/or murder cases, Nell comes into her own. She is an array of dichotomies : innocent and tough, motherly to those she cares about, and literally blood-thirsty...but don't think vampire! She's learning to live outside the world of her religious cult she grew up in and gain training as a paranormal police investigator. Add to that a great caste of other characters AND a sexy sexy were cat...mmmmmOccam! I just had to finish as quickly as I could. And thank goodness for my ebook. I will be reading this again.
blackcattoes More than 1 year ago
I love all thing Faith Hunter and "Flame in the Dark" is no exception! The third book in the "Soulwood" series is just fantastic! Watching Nell grow while being true to herself makes for an interesting read. The pacing is great, and the characters are well developed and real. No one seems stuck in their ways, they're growing and learning as they go. I love books where the characters develop and grow. If you like well written urban fantasy, with likable characters and fast paced action, go out and buy this series. You won't be disappointed.
MJLuckett More than 1 year ago
Another Best Seller from Faith Hunter!!! This is book 3 of the Soulwood Series.... I LOVED IT!!! I LOVE all things Faith Hunter... and the Nell Series is no different... I Love how Nell progresses in each new book, and how her relationships grow and she lets go of some of the "church" ways. Especially Nell and Occam.... They are just so cute!!!! She has come a long way and I can't wait to see where she goes from here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nell has quickly become one of my favorite characters in fiction. I have read Jane Yellowrock for years and LOVE her, but Nell is just a easier to connect to. She continues to grow and discover who she is in this, the third book in the Soulwood series. The pacing of the story is spot on, I never felt an urge to put it down or take a break and never was like "Can we just get on with it already???" The mystery that is the framework for Nell's continued growth is interesting and well developed, but what I really enjoy is continuing to watch Nell grow from the "church woman" into herself. That she embraces some of who she was before, while growing well beyond the limiting parts of her background. The continuing development of the secondary and tertiary characters is spot on as well. I'm a sucker for good background character that are more than just archetypes! As many others have said I finished the book and then went back to the beginning of the series and started over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Faith Hunter has yet again painted a picture with words that can not be adequately described. The world and characters that she has created with this series (in conjunction with her Jane Yellowrock series) is truly stunning. Each book has drawn me in closer and closer, the characters have won my interest (and in some cases my heart) over and over again, and with each new chapter I find myself yearning for more. I won't outline the plot, as so many others have already done so. Unlike other series I've read, the characters in Faith's series continuously grow and learn more about themselves - bringing the reader into the world further and provide an in depth understanding of the character's behaviors and thoughts. The relationships she builds between the characters is done realistically and beautifully awkwardly - as real relationships are. In this book we see Nell delving deeper into her fear and hesitancy of relationships, struggling with her past and the scars it left on her heart and soul, and learning that her strengths have yet to fully emerge and manifest themselves. She is learning how to better embrace the changes life has thrown her way and encouraging (in some ways forcing) those in her life to change as well. Nell is truly becoming a force to be reckoned with, while beautifully maintaining her kindness and compassion. I can't wait to see where her story will take me in the future.
BookWieldingHarpie More than 1 year ago
Flame in the Dark must be my most highly anticipated book of 2017. Not only are the two previous books on my top 3 of 2016, I adore the main character. And the support crew. And the worldbuilding. And the unfinished business. Okay, I love everything about this series. It has the best from the Jane Yellowrock universe, without the focus on vampire politics (which I kinda hate and only tolerate because Jane and her crew are so good). So yeah, it sucked me right in. I am loving Nell's growth. Sure, there was a moment where I kinda screamed "what? No no no no, I don't like it. Faith Hunter cannot do that to me and my precious characters". I get the why it was there. It was needed. I don't have to like, have I? And Nell's justification for her decision didn't set well with me either. Good thing her actions proved what her heart really felt, otherwise I's be terrible upset. As usual, the mystery and the parts involved and context was very well put, intricate and with dept. And the ending, although not being a cliffhanger - thank the writing gods - leaves you wanting for more. It would be a good ending for a trilogy. Knowing we are going to have more, makes it perfect. For now. 5 fiery stars. I said it before, and will say it again. PICK THE BOOKS AND START READING THEM. It will be worth it. I Promise.
S_White_1218 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the amazing publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Five supernova, fiery, supernova, pick up this book (or book one) immediately stars! Stop whatever you're doing and pick up Faith Hunter. Seriously, right now. This woman's Jane Yellowrock series is AWESOME as it is, but she's at the top of her game when she writes about Nell Nicholson Ingram, PsyLED probie and all-around kickass protagonist. This time around, a Senator's family survives (mostly) an assassination attempt, and a bunch of different law enforcement agencies are called in -- including the PsyLED unit composed of Nell and friends, thanks to some vampire presence at the location of the attempted killing. Things burn out of control (fire pun intended!) from there, as the twisted maze of clues and suspects and paranormal creatures pile up into a giant plate of spaghetti, story threads twisted together into a top-notch entry into her already top-notch Soulwood series. We get a ton of growth in a handful of the main characters, Nell included, and we even get a little more insight into her families -- her actual family in the church, and her "townie" PsyLED family. Overall, Faith has created a very deep character that is easy to connect with, spun a fantastic yarn of a tale, and as always, left me begging for more... and thankfully, she's contracted for more now. I'm so relieved to hear that this isn't going to end as a trilogy, because it (along with Jane) has a rightful spot in my top favorite series. Seriously, you read all this, even though I told you at the beginning to stop and go read Faith Hunter? I guess I'm flattered, but you're terrible at following directions! :)
Anonymous 11 months ago
Faith Hunter writes in a compelling in depth engaging narrative style. Her characters are fully formed, you learn their species, their motivations and how it relates to the story you are reading. I feel cheated of that excellent story & people development. Nell dithered and wandered constantly wailing about tomorrow, another day another time. PSY/LED team members all faked intelligence as they worked 16 hour shifts & learned ... nothing. I love this authors work. It is intense, involving, & an intimate look into mundane things. Her paranormal workings are spectacular and different. Her timing her phrasing are poetical. Her descriptions lyrical. Someone took a hatchet to this authors work. I want to blame editors or publishers. I want to rant about word counts and contracts ... bottom line I'm a reader, I read. My joy in reading this book was stolen. To write a book you need a beginning a middle and the end. This book has that, it has characters I care about, a plot that was intriguing, a resolvement that tied up the story line to a happy conclusion. I bought this book for the authors story telling and in that I got burned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great story. Love the characters and the storytelling. I'm a avid fan of Faith and her books. I hope she will continue this series and can't wait till the next Jane Yellow rock book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read more Soulwood books. More please?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started this series the heroine got on my nerves ...however with this second book I wanna swap out recipes with her
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it and will probably read it again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of the Yellowrock series & started this series reluctantly. I didn't know if I could get into a spinoff series who's main character was a victim of church abuse, having been in & seen many of the same type of behavior up close and personal. But I found Nell to be a strong & worthy protagonist, one I could enjoy getting to know. This book gives more details of the characters lives pre-Unit Eighteen & inches us closer to a romance between some of the main characters. I was impressed that the conclusion brought much needed closure to several hanging threads, helped Nell find her way home and gives us a chance to watch Mud grow up. I hope Mud will become a fixture in the series. If you haven't read the previous 2 books, you should read them first, it will give you a better understanding of the story, but I highly recommend this book & this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book and love this series! So happy about Nell and Occam's developing romance. please don't make us wait too long for the next book :)
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
Excellent! Nell is developing and maturing, finding her place in life and in the PsyLed group. Not only must she now be responsible for herself, but, also for her little sister. The series has it all. Mystery, developing relationships between characters and, romance. I have always loved the Jane Yellowrock series, Soulwood is now also becoming a favorite.
Twicky More than 1 year ago
I received this ARC an honest review. I just love Nell. With each new book you see how strong she really is emotionally and mentally. She is trying to recover from the mental scarring that her commune church inflicted. She has found out that her family did not abandon her, but got her out of harms way. With "Flame in the Dark", Nell keeps seeing her powers grow and she is seeing her little sister following in her footsteps. Joining PsyLed (paranormal police) has helped Nell find her confidence. In this book, Nell is trying to find who is behind all the assassinations behind the ones in political power. In doing so, will Nell lose herself? You must read this to find out.