- Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
- Performed by R.C. Bray
- Published: Brilliance Audio and released November 2016
- Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense
FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul.
This is one of my all time favourite series. Totally compelling. Initially, it was Roarke, his reaction to Cara’s terrible story when he was just a boy himself, and the impact it had on his life that intrigued me. And Cara, a protagonist with such a tragic young life, turned vigilante. As the story and the series progressed the characters developed and became ever more complex, so it was impossible not to become involved and care about them.
Following Cara’s capture and subsequent escape after somehow making bail, Roarke takes a voluntary leave of absence from his job with the San Francisco FBI to try and clear his mind, find peace and get his life back on track. But he can’t get Cara out of his head and when he receives an angry, deliberately provoking message from a Detective Ortiz mentioning Cara, he is initially confused….until he remembers Ortiz was involved in the investigation into what he suspected was Cara’s first murder. Unable to get a reply from his return calls, Roarke is curious enough to drive the five hours it takes to see Ortiz in person.
The narrative alternates between the present and the past in a dual storyline. In the present Roarke follows in the young Cara’s footsteps, beginning with the small town where the fourteen year old was sent sixteen years ago, uncovering horrific crimes as he follows in her footsteps and finds himself hunting the same predator.
The past is told from Cara’s perspective, fleshing out her character and background in the social services and justice systems, giving an insight into the people and situations that determined the person she became, and making her more identifiable.
But she has that few moments’ advantage because she knows. She knows the sound of It, Its smell, the hoarse and grating breath, the stench of sweat and malevolence. She knows what has come for her because she has been in a room with It before. She was small then, small and innocent and helpless. But she is bigger now, bigger and stronger and deadlier.
And she has something else. This time she is angry. This thing has stolen her family, has left her alone and scorned and shunned. This time she will fight, and fight to kill…….
For now, she sits and waits for Them to come and take her to jail.
She is twelve years old.
An underlying theme throughout is the question of belief, in intuition, in a ‘knowing’ of evil in human form, being able to feel it. I find it easy to believe a child who was exposed to such terror and savagery in her formative years could recognise, and be sensitive to evil. This quality is developed throughout the storyline into an almost psychic characteristic which I really like.
Roarke is still fighting his conflicting feelings towards Cara and his differing reactions to her deadly brand of justice. He can’t help but feel nothing is black or white and those who prey on vulnerable children and teens, and escape lawful punishment, perhaps deserve what they get. His inner struggle makes him more human and relatable because I think a lot of people, myself included, might have difficulty defining the rights and wrongs in this kind of situation.
I love the structure of the book and how the story unfolds from both perspectives, the excellent writing and the character additions, most especially Mother Doctor. We should have had nuns like her at school.
Another outstanding performance from R.C. Bray, who has narrated the series brilliantly.
Bitter Moon is a dark, heartbreaking story, generating so many emotions given the subject matter, written cleverly and very thought provoking with a strong message. Although it’s a fictional account, what makes it even more hard hitting is the author’s note at the end of the book, part of which is as follows… ‘Before I was a full-time screenwriter and author, I worked as a teacher in the Los Angeles County juvenile court system. I have not in any way exaggerated the plight of children and teens in the Social Services and justice system. Abuses and neglect are rampant in every state, not just California.’
Information on organisations and resources can be found here.
About Alexandra Sokoloff
ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON, BITTER MOON). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”
As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS, STEALING HOLLYWOOD, and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.
Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham’s all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook. But not an addict. Seriously, it’s under control.