Cynthia Eden is a unique suspense romance writer. All the books in the “Killer Instinct” trilogy, including the second installment, “Before The Dawn,” have very creative titles that alert to the heroine. “After the Dark” is named after Samantha Dark and “Before The Dawn” is named after Dawn Alexander. There is also the premise that explores how someone in law enforcement through their special relationship, are able to see the killer in a way others cannot, allowing readers to be drawn into the dark minds of the psychopathic characters.
Her next book, the conclusion to the “Killer Instinct” series, “will feature Macey Night and Bowen Murphy. As FBI Agents they will be working on a case together and then form a relationship. All of the characters will be back because this is the tie up book for the trilogy. She noted, “In the future I would like to do a series that focuses on one character, the lead in every book of the series, where we can see how they would handle different cases presented and grow.”
Eden does a great job of getting someone up to speed that has not read the first in the series. Early on Samantha Dark, the main character of “After The Dark,” returns, explaining her job is now the supervisor of an experimental unit of FBI Agents that have a personal connection to the serial killer through family, friendship, lovers, as well as their tormentors. This team moves throughout the US when murders start piling up with the suspect attributed to a serial killer.
The author noted, “Samantha is smart; yet, has trust issues and because of that keeps secrets. She is a conflicted heroine because justice matters most to her and she does not always see the world as black and white. I explored with her how it is truly hard to know someone, especially those who do not fully open up. We only know what people show us, basically what is on the surface.”
In this novel, the killer known as the Iceman, with his diabolical ways, possibly slipped under the radar, having committed his crimes before the unit was established. Seven years ago, Jason Frost, the Iceman, sliced Dawn Alexander up with a knife, and calmly explained how he planned to freeze her to death. This was personal to the killer, because he used his father’s meme, “blood always comes first and binds.” hoping his brother Tucker would join in the “fun,” since Dawn was his lover. At that moment his brother Tucker, also Dawn’s lover, recognized he had missed all the signs that Jason was a monster, and knew that in order to save Dawn he must shoot him.
Fast-forward to the present day where a serial killer with Jason’s hallmarks starts operating in New Orleans, also the place where Dawn currently resides and is now being terrorized. Although the sole survivor to the Iceman’s attacks, she still has scars, both emotional and physical where he maimed her. Samantha’s team, including Tucker Frost, hunts the predator, unsure if they have a copycat or Jason has returned.
Tucker must realize that if he is to have the relationship re-emerge with Dawn he must also let the past go. He needs to compartmentalize between Jason the brother and Jason the serial killer. His brother was his support system, teaching him to ride a bike, holding his hand as they buried their mother, and his best friend, while the killer was evil, sadistic, and depraved.
Although Dawn starts out as the victim she had developed an inner strength, making sure her life got back on track. Part of the reason she became a PI is to be seen as the protector, not a weak and scared person, but someone who uncovers secrets and lies to find the truth about people. Now having a sense of normalcy she is determined not to let this antagonist take it away from her. A quote from the book hammers the point when she told Tucker, “He didn’t break me… I am stronger than he was. I’m stronger than you give me credit for being… I’ve changed and could let the fear go. That the past wasn’t going to control my life.”
In her books, readers also get hints on how to protect themselves. Eden noted, “I took some self-defense classes. They always spend an hour on how to be more vigilant in your life. I try to slip in what I learned into my books. I want to educate the readers, but hopefully not hit them over the head. In this book I told of knowing your surroundings and changing up your patterns.”
A warning: keep a light on while reading this “Dark” series. “Before The Dawn” gets readers hooked from page one. Eden does a wonderful job with the character development as she allows readers to get into the minds of the antagonists and protagonists. The tense atmosphere created with the brutality of the murders makes the plot very suspenseful.