Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Club: Fade to Black by Leslie Parrish

By: Shelly Estes

Formerly an investigator in the  FBI’s violent crimes unit, Special Agent Dean Taggert knows the vicious nature of some people.  He is now a member of the Black CATs – a cyber crimes unit headed up by Wyatt Blackstone. The unit has just discovered online video of vicious murders committed by The Reaper, who sells his murders in an online world called Satan’s Playground.  One of the victims resembles a missing person case in Hope Valley, Virginia.  Dean and Wyatt travel to Hope Valley to meet with the local sheriff,  Stacey Rhodes, who took over for her father when he retired.  She is still reeling from being a Virginia State Police first responder to the violence of the Virginia Tech killing spree.  All she wants is a nice, quiet, non-violent life.  Her cozy life is turned upside when she identifies the first Reaper victim as a local girl named Lisa Zimmerman, who has been missing for more than a year.  She agrees to help the FBI unit with their investigation.  She and Dean also share an instant attraction to each other.  Stacey is willing to have a physical relationship with Dean, but doesn’t want to get too involved because it would mean opening up her feelings to pain and sorrow. Dean is willing to try a physical relationship because he has been celibate since his divorce 10 months prior.  He was thinking more along the lines of a bar hook-up, but when Stacey proposes that they hookup, he’s all for it!

While Dean & Stacey plan to get together after a day of searching for Lisa’s remains, which Stacey is sure are near town based onthe video, a horrible surprise is left on her front porch.  She arrives home to find the body of her dad’s dog on the porch, and the word Bitch written in the dogs blood on her doormat.  While she is cleaning up the carnage,Dean arrives for their rendezvous.  He takes over the cleanup, and encourages Stacey to go inside and shower.  When he’s done and comes inside to check on her, Stacey invites him join her, resulting in one really steamy shower!  Later, she overhears Dean having a goodnight talk with his young son, and realizes he is someone she could fall for, even though she doesn’t want to.

While continuing to investigate the Reaper murders,several of the townies are considered suspects, and in the process of elimination they almost accidently stumble on the Reaper and his currentvictim.  The Reaper escapes capture by hanging himself for the Satan’s Playground audience.  Once the investigation is over, Dean has no reason to stay in Hope Valley, and Stacey must decide if she is willing to risk her heart.

I really liked this book, except for the killing of the dog :o).  The attraction between Dean & Stacey was believable and well thought out.  There was some humor and lightheartedness, even in the midst of the murder investigation.  I love the part where Stacey turned Dean onto Chuckie Cheese for his son – and Dean had the thought that if he never saw that big singing rat again, he’d be happy!!
My office mate gave me the second recipe – when you see the first one you’ll know why!

Preheat oven to 400
Open box, place frozen pizza on pizza pan
Bake until golden brown.
Slice and enjoy with your favorite beverage

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon
6 oz uncooked fettuccine or spaghetti
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (1/4 lb)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
¾ cup chopped plum (Roma) tomato (1 medium)
½ cup thinly sliced green onions (8 medium)
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Greek Fat Free plain yogurt

1)      Cook and drainfettuccine as directed on package. In 10-inch skillet, cook bacon and garlicuntil crisp. Drain; remove from skillet, and set aside.
2)      In small bowl,slightly beat egg. Beat in milk, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Place cookedfettuccine in skillet. Add milk mixture, spinach, tomato and green onions.Cover; cook about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, untilspinach is tender.
3)      Stir in yogurt;cook over low heat just until heated through.

Serve with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese andfreshly ground black pepper.

Leslie will be dropping in to say hi and answer questions.  She will also be giving away the next two books in this series - Pitch Black and Black at Heart.


Aly said...

I absolutely love this series! The characters, the storylines and the overall feel of the books just grab me.

In this book, I love that both Dean and Stacey are strong without being over the top. It is so nice to have two lead characters that are both strong without one dominating the other.

And the storyline, while a bit dark, keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Great write up Shelly! And I love the first recipe! It is right up my alley :)

krisgils33 said...

great write up, shelly! i love leslie parrish books. will we be seeing more (i though awhile back leslie said there wouldn't be....but i'm hoping that is incorrect!)

ShellyE said...

Mornin' ladies!! I really liked this book too -- I have the third book but not the second, which I need to remedy!! I like these characters too, because they are mature and self confident (except maybe with their hearts!) without being arrogant and insufferable!!

Leslie, how did you come up with "Satan's Playground"? Its just too creepy for words!!

Aly, I am the laziest cook around. If you cant pop it in the oven or dump it in a pan, it doesn't get cooked!! I am definitely NOT Martha Stewart!!

Marie Force said...

Ack the dog dies? Not sure I can read it now! LOL

Alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

Good Morning Everyone!

Great write-up Shelly! Looks like I'll be adding a new series and author to my TBR! The recipes look great...I'm all about easy meals too:-)

StephanieJS said...

I've been wanting to read this book. It's sitting in my TBR with the other books in the series. I wish I could add more hours to my day just for reading.

I love to cook, but these days I find the frozen pizza route the easiest to do.

Leslie Parrish said...

Hi everyone--

Thanks so much for featuring Fade To Black on today's book club! Shelly, that was a great write-up, thank you so much!!

I loved writing the Black Cats books and was really disappointed that they didn't sell well enough to be continued. I am hopeful that they'll do well in the German market, as I am trying to sell book 4 there. If I write it for that market, I fully intend to self publish it here.

Shelly, in answer to your question, I had been hearing about some of these "cyber life" websites where people would just lose themselves for days, living out this virtual life. Getting married, building a home, all with this other avatar connected to some random stranger out in the world. And the idea of a site for deviants just popped into my head.

The dog was a tough call, and I debated it a lot, actually writing it a different way that wasn't so horrific. I was intentionally pulling my punches, knowing the audience would be upset if I went the way my gut told me to. But deep down, I always knew I'd copped out and it didn't work. My editor read it and agreed. Because the moment it precipitates (Stacey finally breaking down and mourning over what had happened at Virginia Tech after holding in her emotions for two full years) was just so critical, it had to be something HUGE that pushed her over the edge. And unless I just went for it and made it significant enough, you just couldn't buy into her finally letting the tears flow in the shower. So, as painful and awful as it was (I have two dogs I adore!) I had to go back and give the scene the full emotional punch it deserved. While I've gotten a few angry comments, I have also gotten a lot of support from readers who hated that it happened but understood why it did.

Aly said...


Thanks so much for dropping in. I would LOVE if we got book #4 :) And self pubbing seems to be the way to go right now --- right Marie?

I wonder if you find it "easier" to write your hero or heroine? And do you find the storyline "easier" to write or the characters? (I use easier very loosely, as I am sure nothing about writing is easy!)

Marie Force said...

Ab-so-lutely! You should write it and publish it no matter what. You may discover that you make a heck of a lot more on it than you would have if the publisher had picked it up. :-)

ShellyE said...

I agree with the emotional impact of finding the dog on the porch - and it was well written without being gory or too graphic. I too am a dog lover and any abuse of an animal upsets me :o) I cant even watch those HSUS commercials!! I hope you do decide to self-publish book #4!!

Ronlyn said...

Wonderful write up Shelly!
I can't wait to dig into this book. My reading time has dropped considerably lately, but I'm going to start with Fade to Black I think when I get a few minutes again. :-)
And Leslie, thanks so much for stopping by!

Marci said...

I'm a newbie and cant wait to get started on this book after reading Shelly's fantastic review.

ShellyE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShellyE said...

That's my delete -- I tried to post something and it didn't work - so I'll try again!!!

((Waves)) at Marci!! Marci gave me the great Fettucini Carbonara recipe!!

oklanannie said...

Very nice review, Shelly! And that pizza recipe sounds simply scrumptious!!

Welcome to Leslie Parrish and thank you for sharing time with us here on bookclub. I've read all three books in the "Black CAT" series. I certainly hoped for more but was very happy that we did get Wyatt and Lily's story.

"Fade to Black" was a perfect introduction to the CATs. I love a story set in small town America where we want to believe crimes of this magnitude could never take place. Stacey and Dean were strong and well-developed characters. I enjoyed getting to know them and watching their relationship evolve from simply lust into something meaningful.

The Reaper made my stomach turn while holding my attention from beginning to end. Even though he was demented and evil, he had a smartness about him. He was able to blend into "normal" everyday life. Those kinds of criminals seem to draw my attention more so than any others.

"Fade to Black" was carefully plotted with gripping details, clues, stumbling blocks and a believable relationship between Dean and Stacey. I detested that the poor dog died in such a horrendous manner - I'm an animal lover - but I agree that it was a defining moment and necessary for the full impact. It all came together to make for a riveting read for me.

Mary G said...

Great post Shelly! Hey isn;'t Leslie Parrish AKA Leslie Kelly who I know from Plotmonkeys? Hey
twice as many good books to recommend LOL.

Leslie Kelly said...

Great questions Aly. As for who's "easier" to write, hero or heroine, it honestly changes book to book. Some characters come alive for me sooner than others. Stacey absolutely gelled in my mind before Dean did in Fade To Black. I really loved her character and knew her entire back story even before I knew Dean was divorced and had a son.

Other times (Cold Sight for instance) it's all hero for a while.

Leslie Kelly said...

Thanks Marie--I just dipped my toes into the self publishing pool a few weeks ago. Just wanted to play with it, get an idea of the formatting, etc. My hubby did it for me and did a great job. All in preparation for my next Parrish book--whether it be another Black CATs or Extrasensory Agents.

Or, heck, I have a really great paranormal YA idea. And a futuristic adult thriller proposal that's been nagging at me. And a few Harlequin series that readers want more of...

So many stories, so little!

Leslie Kelly said...

Oh, sorry, I'm obviously signed in to Gmail as my other "me."

And thanks for the other great review Oklanannie!

By the way, regarding the giveaway, if you have all three Black CATs books, I'm happy to substitute Cold Sight or Cold Touch.

Marie Force said...

Self-pubbing is the best thing I ever did for my career, Leslie. I hope you have much good luck with it. You can really breathe new life into a series by publishing later books on your own at a lower price than publishers would charge. My book Maid for Love was rejected EVERYWHERE (thank GOD I now say), and that series has been the most popular of all my books. Good luck with your endeavors!

Anonymous said...

love leslie books
would love to read these
kim h

Jane said...

Hi Leslie,
I love the Black Cat books. I do hope Julia, Mick and Derek will get their own book.

flchen1 said...

I confess that I haven't read Leslie's Black Cat titles yet, but I LOVE all her other books and have some of these on the TBR--can't wait to get caught up! There needs to be more hours in the day, please! ;)

Crystal said...

Great write up Shelly! I hate that I haven't read this yet, but will certainly put it in my TBR pile! :)

ShellyE said...

Leslie - I'm glad you could join us today!! I hope to read more of your books, Cold Sight & Black at Heart are in my TBR pile and I plan on getting the rest of your titles!!

Jolene and Family said...

Bahahaha, Shelly I know what I am cooking for dinner tonight :) Don't worry, your not alone. I am not a great cook and prefer the quick and easy

This book sounds great, cannot wait to read it!!!

Hope said...

Sorry I'm late, been a busy few days. Just wanted to pop in and say I LOVED this series and wish it would have continued. The books had it all, romance, suspense and really sick sickos. I had a hard time putting these down.

Great write up Shelly, you did awesome!!!

Leslie Parrish said...

Thanks again everyone, so glad to hear you all enjoyed the books. Do keep up with my website, as whatever I decide to do regarding this series, or Extrasensory Agents, I'll post news there!

Aly said...

So sorry for the delay in posting the winners!

The winner of Pitch Black is flchen1
The winner of Black at Heart is StephanieJS

Ladies, please contact Leslie at and make sure to put Romance & Oreo Book Club Winner in the subject line and let her know which book you won!

Leslie, thanks so much for taking the time to hang out with us, answer our questions and offering some books! We all had a great time!

ShellyE said...

Congrats to the winners!! Thanks for the giveaways Leslie!!