Over the last few week's I've been reviewing the five books in Barbara Chepaitis' Jaguar Addams series in preparation for her tour stops here at Working for the Mandroid. Yesterday Ms. Chepaitis contributed a guest post regarding writing the series. Today I review the most recent book in the series, The Green Memory of Fear, which happens to be the creepiest of the lot.
The Green Memory of Fear
Wildside Press (2011)
Adult / Sci-Fi / Action
On Prison Planetoid three, Jaguar Addams uses her empathic gifts to make criminals face the fears that drive their heinous acts. Very few escape the telepathic web she weaves around them. . . .until now.
When Jaguar takes on a home planet assignment, investigating a psychiatrist on trial for abuse of a little boy, s he finds a killer unlike any she's faced before. Dr. Senci's psi skills are a match for her own, and unless she consents to do as he wants, he'll use them to kill everyone she loves. Once she realizes who and what he really is, she leaves the Planetoid to go after him. But Supervisor Alex Dzarny isn't about to let her go it alone, even if it means losing his own life to save hers.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve spent so much time with a character within a couple of weeks. It’ll feel kind of weird not having another Jaguar adventure to move into as my next read. I’ll to remain satisfied that this fifth volume in Chepaitis’ Jaguar Addams series is the best of the lot. It’s creepy, entertaining and surprising in ways that the previous books didn’t even touch.
The Green Memory of Fear follows a few months after the events of A Lunatic Fear. Jaguar and Alex are remaining a bit standoffish despite the advancement in their relationship in the previous book, and they are both trying to recover from the contamination that had such drastic effects on their psychic abilities. In this frame of mind, Jaguar finds that she’s receiving signs leading her to a new case that would take her back to the home planet to act as a researcher, something she’s never done. Upon finding out she’d requested the job, Alex knows something is up and everything starts to converge, filling in blanks in both of their characters as they both finally have to confront their own fears in the same way they’ve been using on the prisoners.
As in the previous books, the prologue opens up with the bad guy. It didn’t take me long to figure out who he was and how he was potentially related to storylines from previous books. Doctor Senci is a modern day vampire, who feeds off the life energy of humans and essentially lives forever. Because of their healing factor, they’re very difficult to kill and they have a bad habit of abusing children and leaving them broken to become abusers themselves. He’s an incredibly creepy villain because all he wants to do is consume everyone around him. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time compared to previous villains, but Chepaitis uses archetypes to quickly create someone who oozes creep factor.
Some new elements to the world were also introduced. Jaguar becomes haunted by a little girl no one else can see, who appears out of nowhere and leads her around to clues. While there have always been psychic elements to the story and visions within dreams, this was the first time bodily projection was used and it was very haunting. Jaguar also travels to her childhood home of 13 Streams, where we meet her former guardians and become steeped in the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of her Native American heritage. At times I felt the spiritual pieces of the book went a little beyond what I would have chosen myself, but it really did reflect a clearer aspect on Jaguar as a character and it was a nice change from the more urban atmosphere.
Without any spoilers, I really enjoyed how everything in the story came together for the final confrontation. It felt like all the pieces had been set into place, but not in such an obvious way that I wasn’t surprised when the final moments played out. I found The Green Memory of Fear difficult to put down because I became so submerged in the atmosphere in a way the previous books hadn’t achieved.
Chepaitis is an exciting writer who creates entire worlds full of adventure, romance, suspense and horror in under 200 pages. Her lead female is one of the stronger, more dominant protagonists I’ve seen without becoming over the top or as though she’s simply a man within the physiognomy of a female. I really enjoyed this series and look forward to any future adventures Chepaitis plans on putting Jaguar through.