Review: Critical Instinct by Janie Crouch

critical instinctTitle: Critical Instinct

Author: Janie Crouch

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Artist Paige Jeffries

The hero: Detective Brett Wagner

The blurb: Paige Jeffries is the darling of the art world. Her works are original, compelling. But after a brutal attack two years ago —a savage beating from an unknown assailant—Paige has become all but a recluse. She knows her mind is broken. In her sleep she’s drawing scenes of violence. Murders. Going to the cops isn’t an option because they already think she’s crazy. And they may be right.

Seasoned homicide detective Brett Wagner is asked to look into a cold case nobody wants: the assault and battery of a local artist who claims to have drawn a picture of her own attack before it even happened. He remembers shy Paige from high school, and is driven to find her attacker, to believe her when nobody else does, to protect the innocent beauty.

Because when he witnesses firsthand what Paige is drawing in her sleep, Brett realizes they are scenes from actual cases. Cases that had no connection until now. Portland has a secret serial killer, and Paige is somehow linked to his mind.

Standalone or series: Book two in the Instinct series, but can be read as standalone

The review: This book is about one of Adrienne’s sisters, Paige. Like her sisters, Paige has a gift – she can see auras. Every person has colours that surround them and Paige can see evil people because their auras are black.

Two years prior to the book opening, Paige was attacked by a man who nearly bashed her to death. He left her in a burning warehouse but somehow she managed to escape. In the two years after, she’s become a recluse, rarely able to leave her fortified house and be around people. Professionally, she is a talented artist whose paintings sell for a great deal of money, which means she can afford the round-the-clock security guards she has at her home.

The man who attacked her has never been caught. After her attack, Paige discovered she had another ability – she can draw in her sleep. Her pictures are so good they look like photos. Over the span of two years, she has drawn hundreds of pictures of women in her sleep – some of them are alive, some are dead. She doesn’t know who they are or why she’s drawing them, but it takes its toll on her. Like her sisters, she gets nose bleeds and becomes so weak she collapses.

Homicide detective Brett Wagner has moved back to Portland after spending fifteen years in Florida after the deaths of his parents and two sisters in a car crash when he was a senior in high school. Brett is asked by his father’s best friend, who happens to be the chief of police, to look into Paige’s cold case and see if he can spot anything others couldn’t. He knows Paige is hiding something after their first meeting, but he finds himself drawn to her.

Paige feels the same about Brett. They knew each other vaguely in high school – she knew his sisters – and his aura is peaceful: all blues and teals and purples. Slowly, she lets him in and trusts him, even when she knows how crazy her story sounds. In the early hours of one morning, Paige sleepwalks into the room where she draws and Brett follows her, where he watches her sketch a picture of a woman who soon turns up dead.

Brett and his partner, Alex, soon follow a lead that a number of dead women may be part of a pattern that links them to the same killer, the man who attacked Paige. Brett starts to believe that Paige should have died that night and that the killer will come back for her to finish what he started.

Paige eventually shows Brett the hundreds of pictures she’s drawn while asleep and with Alex, they realise they’re all of the same women who were killed by the man who attacked Paige. Eventually, Brett and Alex track down who he is, but not before he manages to kidnap Paige from right under their noses. Paige, who had already drawn a picture of herself dead, is determined not to let that picture come true and so she fights. The heroine wins and gets her hero. Yay! Another book worth reading 🙂

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