A LUNATIC FEAR (JAGUAR ADDAMS, BOOK 4)

B. A. Chepaitis

Wildside Press / 192 pages / June 2004

ISBN: 0809500639

It’s been much too long since Chepaitis revealed more of the continuing evolution of Jaguar Addams. Luckily for us, a new episode in the Fear Series has finally arrived, and it was worth the wait, no matter how much readers grumbled. This latest adventure is the greatest and most deadly test yet for the team members of Planetoid 3. Jaguar, that fearless, complex woman, is more dangerous than her namesake, but irreplaceable. Alex Dzarny, her more cautious but no less courageous supervisor, cannot keep her on a leash. And when the hell are those two ever going to get together?

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This time, the danger comes from many directions, but spring from the Moon, where mining has been outlawed after it was learned that exposure to Artemis chemicals adversely affected humans. Now, in spite of the ban, those nasty side effects are showing up again, and three convicted murderers may be just the first sign of a much more widespread threat. Only Jaguar, with her strong empathic skills, has a chance to connect with the three women and attempt to rehabilitate them by removing their fears and returning them to “normal.”

But, not everyone wants Alex and Jaguar to succeed, as they soon find out, and the cost of failure may be astronomic. The cost of failure may also be their lives. They have stepped into the path of a profit machine that will not hesitate to kill to protect its interests. In fact, maybe it already has.

A Lunatic Fear may be Chepaitis’ best Jaguar novel yet. The Artemis exposure transforms seemingly sane people into horrific killers, ruled by an almost religious fervour. Perhaps it is that fanaticism that drives the nonstop pace and mounting tension in the story. It is one thing to deal with murderers and other criminals, but those touched by Artemis poisoning are a breed apart, as foreign to other humans as sociopaths, but even more frightening. No one knows what their agenda is. No one but Alex and Jaguar can come close to discovering the monstrous truth behind it all. And they just might die for that knowledge.

Once again, Chepaitis will have readers clutching her book, unable to break away from this taut, shocking thriller. She knows her audience and she knows her stuff, so don’t plan on setting this one down for an instant. Do remember to relax that white-knuckle grip once in awhile, though.

Now, if only Chepaitis would take us back to the Killing Times, when serial murder became pandemic and the world changed forever. That’s a thought that is almost impossible to wrap your mind around, but if anyone can bring that scenario to bloody life, she can. Maybe if we ask really sweetly Chepaitis will write that prequel, because it would be one of the few well worth the read.