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Midnight Caller    by Leslie Tentler order for
Midnight Caller
by Leslie Tentler
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2011 (2011)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As a young girl, Rain Sommers lost both her high profile parents to what police determined was a murder/suicide. Even now, the bizarre and grisly circumstances surrounding Desiree Sommers' death have never really been put to rest, especially by the New Orleans Goth community, who maintain that the sultry-voiced singer was a vampire.

Rain has tried her best to shield herself from her past, dedicating herself instead to her late night radio call in show, where she focuses on reaching out to troubled teens. After a fan who dubs himself Dante makes repeated calls that point to an obvious obsession with not only Rain, but also her mother, Rain finds herself under the scrutiny of the FBI.

Special agent Trevor Rivette is willing to bet his career that Rain's midnight caller and the serial killer he's tracked halfway across the country are one and the same. Dante's intimate knowledge of aspects of the Vampire Killings is his first clue. The second is Dante's obvious obsession with Desiree Sommers and the very telling fact that he knows facts about the case that were never released. Determined to prove his theory, Trevor convinces Rain to work with him before another innocent young woman is brutalized. Neither is prepared for their fiery attraction, however, nor is The Vampire Killer who vows that Rain will become his, just as her mother had before her.

Tentler takes a familiar romantic suspense premise and locale and lifts both well beyond the norm with emotionally charged characterizations, a flair for establishing setting and a chilling, serpentine storyline. Trevor's characterization and backstory is particularly well done; the villain not only singles him out and then taunts him with each successive kill, but also forces Trevor to confront his own dark and violent family history.

Both leads' actions occasionally push credibility and important questions surrounding the villain's origins are not satisfactorily answered, but as a whole Midnight Caller is a powerhouse of a debut - I'll be one of the first in line the day Leslie Tentler's next romantic suspense is released!

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