Click here to read reviewer Wendy Runyon's take on The Hunt.
Allison Brennan first exploded into the world of fiction with The Prey, an awesome suspenseful read about ex-FBI agent Rowan Smith. In this second book of the trilogy, readers are introduced to another almost-FBI agent - Miranda Moore - who twelve years ago survived brutal rape and torture at the hands of a serial killer. Dubbed The Butcher, the madman continues to prey on beautiful young women in the Montana area, skillfully avoiding capture identification as he hunted each of his victims to death - except Miranda, who escaped narrowly.
Now with a scarred body and a soul haunted by the trauma, Miranda works day and night for the local search-and-rescue squad. Each time she finds the body of yet another of the Butcher’s victims, she is tormented afresh by memories of her own suffering. When the body of the latest victim is discovered, FBI agent Quinn Peterson finds himself once again hunting the madman who has kept the love of his life, Miranda, obsessed to date. But a deep gulf now separates them; Miranda has never forgiven Quinn for destroying her chances of becoming an FBI agent.
Despite this, the embers of their passion soon stir into a life, a fact keenly observed and felt by Sheriff Nick Thomas, who has never quite succeeded in claiming Miranda’s heart despite dating her. With each new victim, Miranda relives her torment over and over, knowing she will have no respite as long the killer roams free. Determined to face her demon and fight her own battles, Miranda plunges into danger time and again, leaving Quinn and Nick to worry. But can all their vigil prevent Miranda from becoming the Butcher’s ultimate victim?
With her debut novel, The Prey, Brennan proved she was a force to reckon with, a reputation she now cements with The Hunt, another breathless, chilling read that is again a tad too long. Miranda’s pain over her ordeal and how she continues to suffer are graphically described, as is her obsession to capture her tormentor and struggle to fight her demons. Never a victim despite being victimized, Miranda is an ideal heroine, easy to relate and aspire to. Quinn and Nick are the two men in love with this courageous woman, but it is another man - the Butcher - who consumes her heart and soul, leaving Miranda in no condition to appreciate the sentiments of either man.
Gory details aside, the author paints a vivid picture of the pain and trauma endured by the female victims. She also gives readers keen insight into the madman himself, describing not only his cruel actions but also the motivation behind his obsession. The starkly wild beauty of Montana is a perfect foil for the brutality that takes place, and Brennan accurately captures the local atmosphere and small-town politics. Terror and pain are the dominant emotions , with brief amounts of sex and romance to compensate. The palpable violence and suffering may not appeal to all readers, but there is no denying the power behind this slick plot or its appeal.