Kristi Bentz almost died. She has been a target on more than one occasion because her father, Rick, is a detective in the New Orleans Police Department. Now that she has recovered from a coma, Kristi wants to set out on her own path and become a strong, independent person. So she leave homes and returns to All Saints College where she can pursue her goal of becoming a true crime writer.
All Saints College, however, is having a crisis. Four girls have gone missing from the school in less than two years. The administration isn't particularly concerned and neither are the police, passing the whole thing off as a few troubled young ladies who have run off. They have no concerned families or friends, and are written off.
Kristi begins her own investigation and soon starts to uncover a dark and deadly underbelly that hides in plain sight on the campus of All Saints. With the help of former flame Jay McKnight (who is now her professor), Kristi seeks answers to the vampire cult that may be to blame for the disappearances. Adding to Kristi's already heightened nerves is the discovery that she is living in a room previously rented by one of the missing girls.
With LOST SOULS, Lisa Jackson takes readers back to New Orleans, but this is a different New Orleans. It is scarred, battered and altered forever by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The damage wrought by the storm plays a role in the unfolding of the tale, and Jackson does a marvelous job of detailing some of the problems faced by the police department, such as evidence lost in floods and how it has changed those who are working to keep the peace. She does this without descending into a weary lament but rather by using it as a thread that secures part of the story to the rest. Subtle but vital.
Kristi certainly has her troubles laid out for her in LOST SOULS, and for one who has endured so much previously, she holds up quite well. Jackson has drawn her as a strong young woman who truly is trying to break free from her past and avoid having to fall back on her father and his position in the police force to assist in her investigation. Even as Jay implores her to seek his help, she refuses, choosing to strike out on her own despite her growing fears.
Jackson again presents us with a psychopath shrouded in mystery, revealed in quick glimpses that hint at identification without giving anything away. Like her previous bad guys, the one in LOST SOULS has the incredible ability to decipher the nature of a victim with great speed, clarifying their strengths and weaknesses, and giving the villain all he needs to manipulate those weaknesses. A great testament to her writing is that it never feels contrived.
LOST SOULS is a thriller, and a fine one at that. It is intense and highlighted with history as well as more current events. The New Orleans of Lisa Jackson's world lives on the page and seems no less real than if you were in the city proper. Fans of her previous work should be very pleased with this latest effort, and first-time readers, while perhaps somewhat lost at the beginning due to not having the character backgrounds, can easily find themselves pulled into the story.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on March 1, 2009