cover image Whispers of the Dead

Whispers of the Dead

Spencer Kope. Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-07288-7

Kope’s disappointing sequel to 2016’s Collecting the Dead takes Magnus “Steps” Craig, an FBI agent with the ability to see an individual’s “shine” (a unique color signature), and his partner in the elite Special Tracking Unit, Jimmy Donovan, to El Paso, Tex., where a federal judge has discovered a pair of severed feet packed in a cheap ice chest in his living room. Steps uses the shine of the person he dubs the Ice Box Killer to follow the culprit on a winding route that takes him and Donovan to the swamps of Louisiana and into the deserts of New Mexico. While Steps’s enhanced visual sense came across as an interesting, if not entirely believable, quirk in the previous book, this time it serves as a plot crutch that allows pieces of the narrative to fall too easily into place. Steps and Donovan both display questionable law enforcement knowledge throughout (e.g., they don’t know how many murders someone has to commit in order to be considered a serial killer), lending the whole novel an air of inauthenticity. Readers will hope that Kope, a Washington State police crime analyst, will put his expertise to better use next time. (Apr.)