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From Black Rooms    by Stephen Woodworth order for
From Black Rooms
by Stephen Woodworth
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2006 (2006)
Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Natalie Lindstrom is trying to make a new life for herself and her family. Having recently left behind a career in the NAACC (North American Afterlife Communications Corps), she's now struggling to make ends meet. In the NAACC, Natalie worked as a Violet, so named for the group's distinctly colored eyes. The Violets are a crime-fighting unit unlike any other, marked for their ability to channel the dead. On her own, Natalie puts those same skills to use and calls upon her seldom-used artistic talents. Her new career involves channeling long-dead painters to create new original works that can then be sold for a decent sum. But artists are volatile, hard-to-control souls, and life for Natalie isn't much easier now that she no longer has to deal with the criminal element for a living.

Still, it seems the criminal element insists on coming to her. Natalie's former lover, best known as the Violet Killer, has escaped from prison ... and he wants Natalie at any cost. To have her, he's made a deal to channel a dead geneticist whose greatest project was attempting to turn normal people into Violets. Together with the geneticist's only living experiment, Natalie must protect herself and her daughter.

There's nothing quite like a well-written paranormal thriller. In the hands of a skilled author, all the elements come together flawlessly to create a book that's hard to put down. Woodworth has obviously done a great deal of research for this novel. The informative and fascinating details about the art world and the stolen paintings add a great deal of believability to a plot that hinges on suspension of disbelief.

From Black Rooms is Woodworth's fourth installment in the popular Violet series, but reading the preceding installments isn't necessary to fully enjoy the novel. Woodworth does a remarkable job of weaving in a decent amount of world building and explanation with a fast-paced plot that revolves around likable characters. He pits them against each other in such a way that the reader becomes a willing participant in the thrilling chase, rooting for Natalie to outsmart (and in some cases, to outrun) the Violet Killer. The explosive ending that concludes the book's heart-pounding climax is not to be missed.

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