Book Review: A Killing Rain by Faye Snowden

Faye Snowden's A Killing Rain is a dark, Southern gothic tale featuring homicide detective Raven Burns, who has a complicated past and a desperate case to solve. Check out Doreen Sheridan's review!

As A Killing Rain starts, our heroine—homicide detective Raven Burns—thinks she’s finally put at least some of her demons to rest. Her father was notorious serial killer Floyd Burns, who used his only daughter as bait in his sick schemes. When Raven grew up, she was determined to put Floyd behind her by enrolling in the police academy. This did not sit well with several of her eventual colleagues, including the man who would become her nemesis, Lamont Lovelle. He had been incredulous, if not downright aggravated, that the underage accomplice of a serial killer should have been rewarded with a job in law enforcement once she grew up:

Burt Raven’s career choice was no reward.

 

What Lovelle couldn’t know was that the real so-called reward consisted of nightmares filled with screaming and blood and burning flesh, along with Floyd’s voice in her head. The job was Raven’s penance for the sins of her father, and frankly, what she thought of as her own sins for helping him. It was her one chance to make things right. Lovelle took that away from her.

Now that she’s no longer a police detective in her hometown of Byrd’s Landing due to Lovelle’s machinations, Raven is determined to help out her best friend and former partner Billy Ray Chastain instead. Maimed in the course of Lovelle’s vendetta against Raven, Billy Ray has retired from the force in order to open a Creole restaurant. Raven is happy to waitress for him, especially since she needs the paycheck.

But their old chief won’t let her go so easily. With a new serial killer targeting teenage boys in their town, Chief Sawyer is ready to do anything he can to get her back on the force. The only detective they have left in Homicide doesn’t really have the stomach for it, having far preferred his old beat on Major Crimes. Raven is also entirely reluctant but for different reasons. In addition to her new job, she has a new boyfriend and a new perspective on playing by other people’s rules. But when her own nephew Noe goes missing, Raven knows she has to start working with Chief Sawyer again if she has any hope of bringing the teenager home.

Unfortunately for Raven, most of the evidence points to Noe being the victim not of the serial killer but of a copycat. Raven’s foster brother Cameron quickly becomes lead suspect in his own son’s disappearance. He hadn’t expected Noe to come into his life, and stands to gain a substantial amount of money in the event of his only child’s death. While Raven knows that Cameron wouldn’t hurt a fly, his irresponsible attitude isn’t helping to allay anyone’s suspicions. Raven finally loses her temper with him when he shows up at a memorial vigil for the serial killer’s victims, prompting him to snap back at her.

“Get your fucking finger out of my face.”

 

“You did screw up. Your son missing three days and you don’t even know it. And you’re still screwing up. Running around here like you know he’s dead…”

 

“He is dead.”

 

“He is not!” Raven shouted.

 

Several heads turned their way. Raven waited until they looked away. She said in a lower voice, “Do you think I would be out here busting my ass if I thought he was already dead?”

 

“So you chasing fairy tales like you always do,” Cameron said. “I’m just trying to be realistic.”

 

Raven let out a nasty laugh. “So this is the one time in your life that you choose to be realistic? That’s some sorry ass timing, Cameron.”

Raven isn’t one to hold her tongue whenever someone she’s talking to isn’t acting right. She understands that sometimes tough love is the only way to get people to see they need to do better. Being passive wasn’t what got her out of the clutches of a serial killer, after all. But that isn’t the only hard lesson she learned from her father, who seemingly won’t leave her alone even in death, as she desperately searches for Noe while trying to escape suspicions that she’s responsible for the murder of Lamont Lovelle.

This novel is a terrific, fully fleshed out tale of a former homicide detective struggling with her demons while trying to do the right thing. I really appreciated how Faye Snowden shows not only Raven’s brusque side but also the understandable fallout, and how our heroine deals with all that. Raven is a fascinating protagonist: as the mixed-race daughter of a white serial killer, she’s inherited far more from him than she’ll readily admit. Perhaps his most useful legacy to her has been the keen mind she has for tracking predators, in both her Louisiana hometown and the wider world. I’m definitely ready to read more of Raven’s investigations as she brings justice to killers both close to home and further afield.

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