Barry Hoffman

Crossroad Press; Gordian Knot / 420 pages / 1st Digital edition (July 25, 2014)


The third volume in Hoffman’s Eyes series is out, and the lethal Shara Farris is back for another hunt. Her prey this time is a female killer as driven and deadly as Shara, but one she has mixed feelings about tracking down. A mysterious mental link between the two women will make the case both more challenging and more personal than any she has tackled yet. Shara is a bounty hunter, though; she has a job to do and a mission to fulfil.

The authorities appear to be unable to stop Mica Swann, Shara’s target in this outing, as she embarks on a cross-country killing spree leaving a trail of bodies in her wake and no clear motive in sight. But, the police don’t have the experience and insight that Shara brings to a case. Police don’t understand the blood lust, the need to kill. That’s something Shara understands all too well. What she doesn’t understand yet is the true nature of the predator she is after.

This is Hoffman’s third outing with Shara Farris. Hoffman’s protagonist — it’s difficult to think of her in the classic hero mode — has approached the point where she is almost superhuman, which approaches the point where it stretches credulity just too far, turning the mortal, fictional character into a comic book character. Hoffman handles this by introducing an element of the supernatural into the saga. Rather than making this more unbelievable, it supplies information that seems to explain a lot. The move from dark realism into dark fantasy is an easy transition and a logical one. In the Eyes series, the shift is a perfectly natural one.

Despite the rapid pacing and interest of the plot, it is really Hoffman’s characters that form the core of his work. Everyone who shows up on these pages is damaged goods — running from or to their ultimate destruction. Shara is just this side of psychotic, after a traumatic and violent past. Her partner, Briggs, is a cop no more, after an arrest gone horribly wrong. Mica is… well… Mica is a psychological disaster area.

The usual warning: Judas Eyes is heavy on the violence and certain of the topics may make some of the more sensitive readers distinctly uncomfortable. You’re tough though; you can handle that. This is an R-rating, not the dreaded NC-17, so don’t be afraid to plunge right in. Of course, you might be afraid once you’re into the story, but isn’t that the whole point?