By day, Roberta Lake is a computer software and hardware specialist with an uncanny knack for understanding the inner workings of the technology she works on. By night, she is a CIA Brain Trust operative, putting her abilities in mind communication, infiltration, and control to use on people instead of gadgets.
In other words, Roberta Lake is a psychic assassin.
Under the watchful eye of the Brain Trust, as well as her handlers, the Three Wise Men, Roberta takes out her assigned targets from afar with the help of her alter ego, Bobbi Waters—the true killer of the two—and only after she determines whether the target truly deserves to die.
This arrangement spins out of control when the Brain Trust suspects Bobbi is fracturing from Roberta, becoming a separate persona. Roberta is deemed a threat to the organization, and this time, it’s her life that’s being targeted. What’s worse—they want to know her secrets first, and she’d rather die by her own hand than be the blueprint for an unstoppable force of psychic killers let loose on the world.
I downloaded this book from NetGalley so in essence, it was gifted to me for my review. (More about NetGalley soon).
First off, the book cover and the blurb are what sucked me in – the eye really captured my attention. And I like the title, though after reading the book, I think “Hidden in Sight” would have been a more appropriate title because for me, this story was anything BUT plain.
It’s an intriguing premise and though I personally don’t believe in psychics and the paranormal, I do believe it’s possible on some level, if not probable. So I’m coming at this read from that opinion.
I was confused right off the bat. The author does a really good job of pushing me right into the middle of Roberta’s story but it took me several chapters before I started to get a feel for what was happening. For example, I thought Roberta and Bobbi were two separate people for several chapters. And I couldn’t figure out the relationship between Roberta and her boss Magi and why were they jumping right into sex? Though an interesting read, I felt cheated in some respects because I wanted to see more character build up before the action.
Though I certainly understand why the author chose to open the story this way, and it was interesting, if not terribly confusing, I feel like if an author is going to open up her story this way, then allow me a moment to catch my breath and catch up to the premise. I needed to know more about Roberta, how she discovered her abilities, who these characters were and why they were important to the story. Though I’m not a fan of back story, a little back story goes a long way.
This story felt more like part four of a series. And I can definitely tell that the author is working that angle with this premise, and I think it’s a good idea, but to me, this was like walking into a movie theater late and jumping right into a story that A. I have no idea what it’s about, B. where it’s going, and C. why I should care enough to stick around and figure it out.
I wanted to know more about how Roberta discovered her talents. I wanted to see her struggles and her emotional journey that led to her decision to terminate bad people. I wanted to know more about her family history and why this ability is prevalent in her family. I wanted to know how she was recruited and by whom. I wanted to experience her first kill and the creation of Bobbi because after the author reveals who Bobbi is, I totally bought the REASON Roberta created her. I wanted to experience Roberta’s moral dilemmas and struggles. I really wanted to see more relationship building between her and Magi – I’m suddenly thrown into the middle of a sex scene and a few chapters later Magi is professing love. Whoa guys, slow down! And I wanted to know why Roberta felt so uneasy about Jenny. Other than that character being annoying, why did her gut tell her there was something off about her co-worker? What actions caused Roberta to be suspicious about Jenny? Simply being annoying doesn’t quite justify why Roberta felt the way she did about Jenny.
I felt like a runaway train trying to make out details from a blurred landscape – it was exhausting and frustrating.
And perhaps that’s the author’s intent, to spoon feed backstory to the reader as the series progresses, I can appreciate that approach, but I needed a bit more backstory IN THIS STORY because it took me a while to play catch up.
This premise also reminds me a lot of the TV show, “Alias” with Jennifer Garner. The character is recruited from college for her raw talent and then cultivated and groomed to be an effective tool for an agency’s agenda. Then, her and her handler develop feelings for one another which complicates their working relationship. That premise has always fascinated me and being a fan of “Alias” I really liked the strong female character and her ability to kick ass virtually all the time.
Which brings me to another point of contention: Roberta is seemingly invincible.
I’m all about strong, powerful women. But Roberta doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses. Her ability to compartmentalize and turn her mind off/on is certainly impressive, but short of killing her physical body, what weaknesses does she really have? We’re lucky that Roberta has a strong moral compass and she’s capable of compassion and love as evidenced by her interactions with her family, but surely there is a physical limitation to her supernatural powers? If so, this story didn’t reveal it. And though her ability to control a target’s mind, and other entities, (no spoilers), it’s almost too much power, too easy, in some ways. I want to see a weakness that is not readily apparent and not many people know about but when someone stumbles across it, it absolutely cripples Roberta and she has to come up with creative ways to handle it.
At this point, Roberta is more machine than human. Which may be what the author is going for, but in order for me to care about her, the possibility of losing her will only enrich the story, in my opinion.
Overall, the story is well written, fast-paced and interesting. I think the author has the potential of taking Roberta on some incredible journeys, I would propose slowing down and allowing the reader to enjoy the experience.
*All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.