Johansen (Deadlock, 2009, etc.) stirs psychics, an apprentice vampire and some unsettled ghosts into a bubbling pot of balderdash.
Near the end of forensic sculptor Eve Duncan’s latest case, she turns to Hamburger Helper to make dinner. It’s one of the few descriptive details here, and an apt one for a tale concocted from fragments, clichés, clipped sentences and stilted dialogue. Back in Atlanta (which for all the sense of place Johansen provides might as well be the lost continent of Atlantis), Eve is contacted by a nearly hysterical Megan Blair, who fears that when she clutched Eve during a recent investigation, she may have transmitted psychic powers. Yes, Megan did. Eve’s daughter Bonnie, missing for nine years, now appears to her periodically for a cloying moment or two. And Eve’s partner, Joe Quinn, has apparently also caught the ESP bug: He begins to see Nancy Jo Norris, a senator’s daughter whose nude body has been discovered, her throat slit. However skeptical of the supernatural, stalwart Joe, a former FBI agent, knows a potentially good source when he sees one, so he begrudgingly teams with Nancy Jo to find her murderer. The culprit is Kevin Jelak, who aspires to full-fledged vampire status. To achieve that, he must find and ingest high-quality, high-protein blood, and he thinks Eve and her adopted daughter Jane offer just that. As a calling card, Kevin leaves a goblet filled with blood he sucked from Nancy Jo in Eve’s refrigerator. In the meantime, he takes several other female victims, their blood at least good enough to keep him going. Devoted to her mother, Jane offers to serve as bait to draw Jelak into the open. Eve will have none of it. She will place herself on the altar of possible sacrifice. Some suspense arises as we wait to see how much more preposterous the plot will become.
Not even Hamburger Helper could rescue this overdone hash.