"Fear the Darkness" (Minotaur), by Becky Masterman
Relationships require a certain amount of vulnerability — the willingness to expose yourself emotionally, hoping that happiness is the ultimate goal, but realizing that being hurt comes with it, too.
Becky Masterman's superior series explores how former FBI agent Brigid Quinn, who spent her life chasing criminals and avoiding emotional entanglements, is dealing with a "normal" life since her retirement. In her second novel, "Fear the Darkness," Masterman delves deeper into Quinn's psyche as she learns how to be a wife, a friend and even a guardian.
Brigid and her husband, Carlo DiForenza, to whom she has been married for two years, have settled into peaceful domesticity in Tucson, Arizona. Her teenage niece, Gemma-Kate, moves in with them so she can establish in-state residency for the University of Arizona. Although Gemma-Kate had been the caregiver for her mother who recently died from multiple sclerosis, she seems to lack empathy for others.
Meanwhile, Brigid, who now has a private investigative agency, agrees to look into the death of a local teenager. Brigid has just started her investigation when she begins to have chronic nausea and hallucinations. When another death is discovered, Brigid worries that her niece, who is interested in toxicology, may be responsible.
Despite her age, the 59-year-old Brigid hasn't gone soft. She can still defend herself, keeping her skills sharp.
The strong voice that Masterman established for Brigid in "Rage Against the Dying" excels in this sequel. Brigid revels in her new life — "... after a long life lived alone except for the company of low-life criminals, I have a husband and a friend. ... This is what normal life is like ... the kind I had fought all those years to preserve for other people." Yet, she worries that the past and what she knows about the nature of evil will always make her guarded.
"Fear the Darkness," a tale of the healing power of unconditional love, is a solid police procedural.