Author(s): Heather Graham
Series: Amy Larson & Hunter Forrest FBI #1
Also in this series: Crimson Summer
Published by MIRA on March 23, 2021
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
On the edge of the Everglades, an eerie crime scene sets off an investigation that sends two agents deep into a world of corrupted faith, greed and deadly secrets.
A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.
The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.
Doomsday preppers and small-town secrets collide in this sultry, twisty page-turning thriller.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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The beginning of Danger in Numbers hinted at nefarious cult activities in 1993 . Fast forward to current year, the discovery of a gruesome ritualistic murder has Florida State Police Special Agent Amy Larson and her partner investigating. The sudden appearance of FBI agent Hunter Forest and his interest in what she considered her case sets her on edge. Forced to work with Hunter when her partner suffered a heart attack did not bode well with her, but the murders needed solving.
The investigation had me on the edge of my seat. I wondered how the events of 1993 tied with the current situation. Well, as the story developed the connection became clear and what a revelation. The mystery surrounding the person involved in the murders proved disappointing because of the ease with which I figured it out. The events leading up to the capture of the perpetrators made up for the disappointment.
Despite Amy’s initial misgivings about Hunter, they made a great team. I loved how the author slowly brought Hunter’s past to light. I thought Amy’s character could have been better fleshed out. The author provided a few details about her background, but it was not enough for me to connect with her. I found I had a better connection with Hunter as I learnt what inspired him to become an agent.
The romance was a slow burning one and developed as the story progressed. It did not overshadow the murder investigation, which was not an issue for me. The villains of the story were manipulative, dangerous, greedy and warped in the head. The murder scenes were not for the faint of heart.
In summary, Danger in Numbers proved to be an engaging read. Fans of romantic suspense who appreciate graphic scenes should add this to their reading list.
Sam Gallagher stood in the forest, deep within the trees, holding his wife and son to him as closely as he could, barely daring to breathe.
They would know by now. He and Jessie would be missed. He could imagine the scene: Jessie wouldn’t have appeared bright and early to help prepare the day’s meal with the other women. He wouldn’t be there to consume the porridge and water that was considered the ultimate meal for the workday—the porridge because it was a hearty meal, the water because it was ordained as the gift of life.
Their absence would be reported to Brother William, sitting his office—his throne room, Sam thought—where he would be guarded by his closest associates, the deacons of his church.
The family had only been in woods for a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Jessie was so still Sam couldn’t hear her breathing, just feel the tremor of her heart.
Cameron was just six. And yet he knew the severity and danger of his situation. He stood as still and silent as any man could hope a child might be.
Panic seized Sam briefly.
What if Special Agent Dawson didn’t come? What if there had been a mix-up and he hadn’t been able to arrange for the Marshals Service to help?
What if they were found?
Stupid question. He knew the what if.
He gritted his teeth and fought against the fear that had washed over him like a tidal wave. Dawson was a good man; Sam knew he would keep his word. He’d arrived at the commune undercover, having the intuition to realize Sam’s feelings, his doubt, and his fear for his wife and his son. Together, Dawson had told him, they would bring down the Keepers of the Earth. His actions would free others. No, their actions would free others.
Today was the day. Just in time. Sam had known the danger of remaining, felt the way he was being watched by the Divine Leader’s henchmen.
They had to leave. Leave? No, there was no leaving the compound. There was only escaping.
Alana Fisk had wanted to leave, and they knew what had happened to her.
It had been Cameron who had found his beloved “aunt” Al- ana’s body at the bottom of the gorge, broken, lying beneath just inches of dry dust and rock, decomposing in her shallow grave. It had been Cameron, so young, who had become wary and suspicious first. He’d seen a few of the older boys in the area when he’d last seen Alana there, and he didn’t trust them. They were scary, Cameron said.
Sam tightened his hold on Cameron. Seconds ticked by like an eternity.
Sam closed his eyes and wondered how they had come to this, but he knew.
He and his wife had wanted something different. A life where riches didn’t make a man cruel.
Jessie hadn’t hated her father; she had hated what he stood for. And Sam knew the day when her mind had been made up. Downtown Los Angeles. They had seen a veteran of the Vietnam War, homeless, slunk against a wall. Only one of his legs remained; he had been struggling with his prosthetic, his cup for donations at his side. The homeless veteran had looked at Jessie’s father and said, “Please, sir, help if you can.”
Peter Wilson had walked right by. When Jessie had caught her father’s arm, he had turned on her angrily. “I didn’t get where I am by giving away my hard-earned money. He’s prob- ably lying about being a vet. He can get himself a damned job doing something!”
Sam had been walking behind them. Embarrassed, he tried to offer Jessie a weak smile. He hadn’t come from money, and he had lost his folks right after his twentieth birthday, but he was working in a coffee shop, dreaming he’d get to where he could work, go to college and have time left over to be with the woman he loved.
He had given the man a dollar and wished him well. Jessie had turned away from her father.
It was the last time Jessie saw her father. Despite the man’s efforts to break her and Sam up—or because of them—Jessie and Sam had eloped. The plan was to both get jobs and finish college through night school. Her father had suspected her pregnancy; he’d wanted her to get over Sam and terminate the baby.
Jessie quickly made friends at a park near their cheap apartment. They were old f lower children, she had told Sam. Old hippies, he’d liked to tease in return. But those friends had been happy, and they’d talked to Jessie about the beauty of their commune, far from the crazy greed and speed of the city.
In the beginning, Brother William’s commune did seem to offer it all: happiness, unity, love and light.
But now they knew the truth.
Brother William—with his “deacons,” his demands on his “flock” and the cache of arms he kept stowed away as he created his empire, demanding absolute power for himself, complete obedience among his followers. And it became clear Brother William’s will was enforced; he had those deacons—Brothers Colin, Anthony and Darryl, and the squad beneath them. They received special treatment.
Sam clutched his family as he strained to hear any unfamiliar sound in the woods. Was that footsteps? Was the rustling of branches just the breeze?
He had to stop dwelling on fear.
He had to stay strong. Maybe not ruminate on what they’d been through.
But there was nothing else to do while they waited, barely breathing.
Think back, remember it all.
Excerpted from Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham, Copyright © 2021 by Heather Graham Pozzessere Published by MIRA Books
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