Phantom Evilby Heather Graham
A secret government unit, a group of renegade paranormal investigators and a murder no one else can crack
Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.
A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and/b>
A secret government unit, a group of renegade paranormal investigators and a murder no one else can crack
Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.
A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and bloodshed.
But one assignment calls to them too strongly to resist. In a historic mansion in New Orleans's French Quarter, a senator's wife falls to her death. Most think she jumped; some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits inhabiting the houseonce the site of a serial killer's grisly work.
In this seemingly unsolvable case, only one thing is certain: whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion will cast Jackson and Angela into danger of losing their lives and their immortal souls.
"Graham expertly blends a chilling history of the mansion's former residents with eerie phenomena, once again demonstrating why she stands at the top of the romantic suspense category." Publisher's Weekly on Phantom Evil, Starred Review
"An incredible storyteller."
-Los Angeles Daily News
"Graham wields a deftly sexy and convincing pen."
"A fast-paced and suspenseful read that will give readers chills while keeping them guessing until the end."
-RT Book Reviews on Ghost Moon
"If you like mixing a bit of the creepy with a dash of sinister and spine-chilling reading with your romance, be sure to read Heather Graham's latest...Graham does a great job of blending just a bit of paranormal with real, human evil."
-Miami Herald on Unhallowed Ground
"Eerie and atmospheric, this is not late-night reading for the squeamish or sensitive."
-RT Book Reviews on Unhallowed Ground
"The paranormal elements are integral to the
unrelentingly suspenseful plot, the characters
are likable, the romance convincing, and, in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina, Graham's atmospheric
depiction of a lost city is especially poignant."
-Booklist on Ghost Walk
"Graham's rich, balanced thriller sizzles with equal parts suspense, romance and the paranormal-all of it nail-biting."
-Publishers Weekly on The Vision
"Heather Graham will keep you in suspense until the very end."
"Mystery, sex, paranormal events. What's not to love?"
-Kirkus on The Death Dealer
Read an Excerpt
Jackson Crow sat staring at the pile of dossiers before him. This was his first meeting with the man on the other side of the desk: Adam Harrison, white haired, dignified, slim and a taste for designer suits. The office was modest, nicely appointed, but far from opulent. Plate-glass windows looked over row houses in Alexandria, Virginia, and other companies with shared space in the building had names such as Brickell and Sons, Attorneys-at-Law, Chase Real Estate and B. K. Blake, Criminal Investigation.
Adam had just handed him the folders. "Jackson, do you have any idea of why you're here?"
He'd returned to his old Behavioral Sciences Unit in D.C. to discover that he was being given a new assignment. His leave of absence, it seemed, was somehow permanent.
His last assignment, despite the excellent work done by him and his colleagues, had ended with three of them being dead.
Yet if it hadn't been for his intuition, two other fellow agents might have died as well. Local police had not responded to the call sent out, and there was no way to blame himself. Naturally, he did.
Maybe the empathy of his superiors had caused them to give him a new assignment, in a different placebehind a desk.
He'd heard things about Adam Harrison. He'd worked solo over the yearsand for the government where the government could not act officially. Adam went in where others did not.
It wasn't because of extreme danger. Rather, it might be considered that he went in because of extreme weirdness.
"No," he said simply.
"First, let me assure you, you are not being let go. You will still be working for Uncle Sam," Adam told him. "The assignments will come from me, but you'll be heading up the team. A new team."
A cushy job somewhere behind a desk that didn't involve serial killers, kidnapping or bodies discovered beneath concrete. Jackson wasn't sure how he felt; numb, perhaps. "Take a look at this."
He hadn't had a chance to look at the files yet, but Adam now handed him a month-old New Orleans newspaper bearing the headline Wife of Senator David Holloway Dies from Fall into Courtyard.
He looked up at Adam.
"Read the full article," Adam suggested.
He read silently.
Regina Holloway, the wife of beloved state Senator David Holloway, died yesterday in a fall from a balcony at their recently purchased French Quarter mansion on Dauphine Street. Six months ago, the Holloways lost their only son, Jacob, in an accident on I-10. While there is speculation that Regina cast herself over the balcony, David Holloway has strenuously denied such a possibility; his wife was doing well and coming to terms with their loss; they were planning on building a family again.
The police and the coroner's office have yet to issue an official cause of death. The house, one of the grand old Spanish homes in the Quarter, was once the killing ground of the infamous Madden C. Newton, the "carpetbagger" responsible for the torture slayings of at least twenty people. Less than ten years ago, a teenager who had broken into the then-empty house also perished in a fall; the coroner's office ruled his death accidental. The alleged drug dealer had raced into the vacant house to elude police.
An uneasy feeling swept over Jackson, but he calmly set the newspaper back on the desk and looked at Adam Harrison.
"That's a tragic story," he said. "It sounds likely that the poor woman did commit suicide, and the senator is in denial. I'm afraid I've seen other instances in which a woman could not accept the loss of her child."
"Many people are insistent that the house is haunted," Adam said.
"And that a ghost committed this murder?" Jackson asked. He leaned forward in his chair. "I'm not at all sure I believe in ghosts, Adam. And if they did exist, wouldn't they be things of mist and imagination? Hardly capable of tossing a woman over a balcony."
"The senator has friends in high places, though he's still only a state senator. He absolutely insists that his wife did not commit suicide," Adam said.
"Does he suspect murder?" Jackson asked.
"The house was locked, no lower windows were open, and the gate to the courtyard was locked as well."
"Someone could have crawled over the wall or gotten through the gate," Jackson suggested.
Adam nodded. "That's possible, of course. But no witnesses have come forward in the past month to suggest that such a thing might have happened. The death was determined to be a suicide fairly quickly. Are you familiar with the city of New Orleans, the French Quarter or Vieux Carre, specifically?"
An ironic smile curled Jackson's features. "Land of vampires, ghosts, voodoo and fantasy. But some of the world's best cooking, and some truly great music, too."
"All right then. You work in behavioral science. Don't you agree that people's beliefs can create actions and reactions?"
"Yes, of course. Son of Sam Berkowitz believed that howling dogs were demons commanding him to kill. Or, it was a damn good defense."
"Always a skeptic," Adam said. "And yet you're not really, are you?" Now, Adam smiled.
"I am a skeptic, yes. Am I open to possibility? Yes," Jackson said carefully.
"You know, both of your parents were amazing believers," Adam reminded him. Jackson hesitated.
Yes, they had been believers, both of them, always believing in a higher power, and it didn't matter what path someone took to that power. Jeremiah Crow had been born a member of the Cheyenne Nation, although his ancestry had been so mixed God alone knew exactly what it was. He had loved the spiritualism of his People, and his mother had loved it as well. Nominally Anglican, his mother had once told him that religion wasn't bad; it was meant to be very good. Men corrupted religion; and a man's religious choice didn't matter in the least if it was his path to decency and remembering his fellow man.
But his maternal grandmother had come from the Highlands of Scotland, and her tales of witches and pixies and ghosts had filled his childhood. Maybe that's why it had been while he was in the Highlands, and not on his Native American dream quest, that he had found himself in a position to question life and death and eternity, and all that fell in between.
"You're here because you are the perfect man for this team, Jackson," Adam said. "You're not going to refuse to investigate what seems like the impossible, but you're also not going to assume a ghost is the culprit."
"All right. So you want me to go to New Orleans and find out exactly why this woman died? You do realize there's a good chance that, no matter what the husband wants to believe, she committed suicide."
"Here's the thing, Jackson, most people will believe that she committed suicide. It is the most obvious answer. But I want the truth. Senator Holloway has given his passion to many critical committees in our country. He has made things happen often when the rest of the country sits around twiddling its collective thumbs. He is a man who can weigh the economy and the environment, and come up with solutions. He wants the truth. He's young in politics, barely forty, and if he doesn't bury himself in grief, he will continue to serve the American people with something our politicians have lacked heavily in the past fifty yearscomplete integrity. People in Washington need him, and I'm asking that you lead the group."
"If it's my assignment, I'll take it on," Jackson paused. "But do I really need a unit?"
"I believe so. I'm giving you a group to dispel or perhaps prove the existence of ghosts in the house. They all have their expertise as investigators as well."
He was quiet, and Adam continued, "When several members of your last unit were killed, you got to the ranch house quickly enough to save Lawson and Donatello. No one knew where the Pick-Man was killing his victims. No one knew that he had arranged for your agents to be at the ranch house."
Jackson felt his jaw lock, and despite the time he had taken for leave, he swallowed hard. They'd lost good agents. Among them Sally Jennings, forty-five, experienced, and yet vulnerable no matter how many years of service she had seen.
He'd felt that he'd seen Sally; dreamed that he'd seen her, standing there at the house.
And it had been that dream that had brought him to the ranch house, and there he had discovered that she had been the first to die.
"I shot the Pick-Man," he said. "He's dead."
"That was the only chance Lawson and Donatello had, since, had he seen you before you warned him and fired to kill, he'd have put that pick through Donatello's chest," Adam said. "Trust me, I've watched you for years, Jackson. I actually knew your parents."
That was surprising.
Adam might well have known about the event when Jackson had been riding near Stirling, Scotland, and been thrown. His friends had gone on, thinking that he had left them; that he'd won the race and the bet. He'd encountered a stranger after, one who had saved his life. And then It had been long ago.
And yet, hell. He'd spent his life debunking ghost stories and dreams like the one he'd had. Finding the truth behind them. Proving that the plantation in Virginia was "haunted" by a cousin of the owner who wanted him out of the estate. Proving that there were no ghosts prowling the Rocky Mountains, that a human being named Andy Sitwell was the Pick-Man, even if he supposedly believed that the ghost of an old gold-seeking mountaineer was causing him to commit murder.
Six months had passed since he had shot and killed the Pick-Man. Six months in which he had tried to mourn the loss of his coworkers. He'd been back to Scotland to visit his mother's family, and he'd spent a month with his father's familyhelping them organize their new casinos and hotels.
But he was ready to get back into the kind of work for which he knew he had a talent. Digging. Following clues. Whether it meant studying history, people, beliefs or a trail of blood. He was good at it.
He had the mind for it, and the mind for the kind of unit Adam Harrison was putting together.
"I'm open to possibilities," he said to Adam. "Possibilitiesthere are a lot of people out there manipulating spiritualism and making a lot of money off the concept of ghosts."
Adam smiled. "That's true, and I actually like your skepticism. As far as believing in ghosts, well, I do," he said. "But that's not important. I've got you scheduled for a flight into Louis Armstrong International Airport at nine tomorrow morning. Is that sufficient time to allow you to get your situation here in order?"
His situation here?
The apartment in Crystal City had little in it. All right, a damn decent entertainment center because he loved music and old movies. A closet of adequate and workable clothing. Pictures of the family and friends he had lost.
He nodded. "Sure. What about these?" He lifted the file folders, the dossiers on his new unit. "When do I meet the crew?"
"They'll arrive tomorrow and Wednesday," Adam said. "You've got the dossiers; read up on them first. I figured you might want the house all to yourself for a few hours. Angela arrives firstshe'll get in tomorrow evening around six. You'll know who they all are when they arrive if you've done the reading." Adam stood, a clear sign that the interview had come to an end. "Thank you for taking this on," he said.
"Did I actually have a choice?" he asked with a rueful grin.
Adam returned the grin. Jackson was never really going to know.
He started out of the office. Adam called him back.
"You know, you have a gift for this, Jackson. And you can really take on anything you want."
Jackson wasn't sure what that meant, either. "I'll do my best," he promised.
"I know you will. And I know that we'll all know what really happened in that house on Dauphine."
X-Files. The thought came to Jackson's mind as he finished with Adam Harrison.
He went down to his car, still wondering exactly what it was he was getting into.
Yeah, it was sounding like the X-Files. Or Ghost-files.
And he was going to have Ghost-file helpers. Great.
In his car, he glanced through the dossiers, scanning the main, introductory page of each. Angela Hawkins, Whitney Tremont, Jake Mallory, Jenna Duffy and Will Chan. The first woman, at least, was coming from a Virginia police force. Whitney Tremont had started out life in the French Quarter; she had a Creole background and had recently done the camera work for a paranormal cable-television show. Jake Mallorymusician, but a man who had been heavily involved in searches after the summer of storms, and been called in as well during kidnapping cases and disappearances. Then there was Jenna Duffy. A registered nurse from Ireland. Well, they'd be covered in case of any poltergeist attacks. And Will Chanthe man had worked in theater, and as a magician.
It was one hell of a strange team.
Whatever, Jackson figured; it was time he went back to work. There was one thing he'd discovered to be correctthe truth was always out there, you just had to find it.
The house seemed to hold court on the corner. It sat on Dauphine, one block in back of Bourbon and three or four blocks in from Esplanade. The location was primejust distant enough to keep the noise down in the wee hours of the morning when the music on Bourbon Street pulsed like an earthly drum, and still close enough to the wonders of the city.
The actual shape was like a horseshoe; a massive wooden gate gave entry to the courtyard, while the main entrance on Dauphine offered a sweeping curve of stairs to the front downstairs porch and a double-door entry that was historic and fantastic in its carvings.
Jackson turned the key in the lock. As he stepped in, the alarm began to chirp and he quickly keyed in the code he had been given.
"Straight out of Gone with the Wind," Jackson murmured aloud as he surveyed the house. "Tara meets city streets." The front room here served as an elegant reception area, perhaps even a ballroom at one point in time. He could almost see Southern belles in their elegant gowns swirling around, led by handsome men in frock coats. A piano sat to the far end near an enormous hearth with tiled backing and a marble mantel. A second, identical fireplace was at the other end of the wall. Midroom was the grand, curving staircase.
Meet the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on Facebook.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The wife of Louisiana State Senator David Holloway, Regina falls from the balcony of their mansion to her death. The New Orleans Police Department investigates and concludes Regina committed suicide as she still grieved the loss of her son Jacob due to a DUI several months ago. Adam Harrison sends his special investigative team to New Orleans to look into the Holloway death. The unit is led by Jackson Crow, who used to work for the Fed's Behavioral Sciences Unit. He, his team of five, and paranormal pragmatic Virginia police officer Angela Hawkins who can detect the supernatural arrive at the Holloway mansion in the French Quarters. Their mission is to determine whether the supernatural was involved in the woman's fall. Soon they revise the objective to staying alive. No one writes romantic urban fantasy better than Heather Graham does as she consistently blends suspense with the paranormal. Her latest thriller Phantom Evil uses the disturbing past of people who resided in what appears to be a haunted house with modern day supernatural happenings. Readers will hear the bumps in the night as Ms. Graham provides another powerful New Orleans paranormal romantic suspense thriller. Harriet Klausner
Can't wait to read about the next case! Makes you fall in love with the charactors and want to follow them to every case.
It's been a long, long time since I've read a book that I didn't want to put down, and then thought about when I couldn't read it. "Phantom Evil" is that kind of book. It called to me, tempting me to stop doing those things I must and instead sit and read. I read late into the night and resented the fatigue that finally caused me to set the book aside. I was simply intrigued by this book, both by the premise and by the characters. Ms. Graham first and foremost did a great job with her group of six investigators, all of whom were both distinct individuals and truly interesting people. Though they all had the commonality of a belief in the paranormal due to brushes with such throughout their lives, they were not all deeply into "woo-woo". In fact, their belief in the truth of ghosts and such made them more skeptical of claims of haunting. Fascinating. The circumstances surrounding Regina Holloway's death - did a ghost push her or did she jump? - were only one of several mysteries this book tackles. We have a dark evil, ghosts of children, a cult, and so much more. All these threads are deeply interwoven and, when our investigators tug at one, sometimes others came unraveled. I absolutely loved trying to puzzle together the clues as they were uncovered. Which were real clues? Which mattered to the case and which were red herrings? I was so pleased that we were only given the points-of-view of our investigators and weren't allowed to see into the minds of others. I dislike reading mysteries when we're allowed to either know whodunit or see into the mind of the antagonist. The connection between the six investigators was instant and believable and I truly hope Ms. Graham has future books planned for all of them. In this book, the main protagonists are Jackson, the team leader, and Angela, the investigator who seems to trigger all the paranormal events that occur. They're the first two to meet, and it's evident there is an attraction between them, one that I hoped they'd act upon. This book never quite crossed the line into "horror", but had its moments of evil and terror. Still, the focus remained on the investigation, and it's primarily a mystery with romantic elements. Well written, well plotted, evenly and quickly paced, "Phantom Evil" hit all my happy buttons and left every part of me well satisfied: the mystery lover and the romantic. I do admit that the ending felt a smidge rushed, but it didn't dispel my feelings of good-will toward this book, and certainly won't keep it off my keeper shelf. If you're looking for a strong mystery that'll keep you guessing to the end, if you like your romantic suspense with a touch of "woo woo" and a satisfying ending I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Phantom Evil. Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
A quick read, but enjoyable
I am addicted to the Krewe of Hunters, and although I didn't find this book as totally engrossing as some of the later ones in the series, it was interesting to explore the beginnings of the group.
Loved the characters in this book . I also love series with lots of books. Looking forward to the rest.
Seemed to be flat. Not as easy reading as the other books in the series.
This book is for someone that has a love for the city of New Orleans, enjoys a book that is well written and fast paced with very realistic characters. Phantom Evil would make a good book for a discussion session(s) for a book club that appreciates a book like this, even if it is for leisure reading. Each time you read it you pick up on something that was missed on prior reading(s). Heather Graham books are all good for reading and I have read and own a large number of her books and will continue to do so.
A always so so good!
Loved this book, especially since I am a Louisiana girl. I wish this was one of our true haunted places in Louisiana because I would have stopped by a long time ago. Heather Graham is an awesome writer and can't wait to read more from this series.
Reviewed by Robin Contest win at The Revolving Bookcase Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Ms. Graham did it again with a book that pulls you in from the beginning captivating her audience long after they are done reading. She takes us deep into the French Quarters of New Orleans, with her way of describing the scenery she puts us smack dab in the middle of the suspense. As we travel through the French Quarters we find ourselves at the mansion of Senator David Holloway. The Senators wife jumped to her death, he wants to find out why because he doesn’t think that it was suicide over the grief of the loss of their child. Enlisted to find the mystery behind the mansion and the death of his wife is a special team of investigators known as the Krewe of Hunters. Adam Harrison heads this special group. It consists of six members, each in different government positions. Within this group each person has a special ability that helps them when dealing with the paranormal. He sends Angela Hawkins and Jackson Crew, who leads this team; out to investigate the old mansion which is filled with intriguing mysteries. While investigating Angela and Jackson find themselves butting heads with a little hint of romance, just enough to tease your senses. Ms. Graham brings the beauty of the New Orleans’s French Quarter and mixes in her own blend of the haunted beauty to keep you captivated. Giving up little pieces of the ending to make you think that you know what happened but in all actuality you don’t until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed Phantom Evil. Ms. Graham brought the past into the present as she mixed the paranormal with human elements (human nature, instincts) leaving you thinking/hinting that this could possibly be real. I loved this ghost or was it a ghost story. Where you come face to face with the characters and you feel as if you are right in the middle of all the action that is going on.
Best book I've read in a while.
Great has always, love all of Heather Graham books thank you!
This was the first Heather Graham I have ever read and definitely intend to read more of her books!!!
I have thouroughly enjoyed every one of Heather Graham's stories. I love the Krewe of Hunters. Don't let the large cast of characters keep you from reading. Each book has been satisfying and "Phantom Evil" does not dissapoint! I look forward to each and every story!
A great thriller to read when the snow is falling and you are stuck inside! I loved this book! One day and two feet of snow, and i was at the end before i knew it!!