Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and homicide detective Vic D’Amato have been together about a year and now are happily living together. With a huge storm expected to hit Myrtle Beach, things are tense around town. But there is also some excitement as a recent hurricane unearthed a shipwreck off the coast that is now being explored. The ship belonged to some notorious pirates, the Gallows Nine, who were famously hanged in Myrtle Beach centuries ago. When Simon has a vision of the hanging, however, the horrible experience definitely leaves him uneasy.

Simon is approached by a contractor working on restoring an old estate in town. The job seems beset by problems and the contractor fears that there may be supernatural causes for all the accidents that keep happening. Then a diver working on the shipwreck reaches out to Simon to see if he may be able to make contact with the ghosts of the pirates from the ship. At the same time, Vic is called in to investigate an apparent suicide that looks like it may be more than it appears. When more suicides crop up, along with other bodies found stabbed in the back, it is clear something serious is going on in town. The more Vic and Simon investigate, the more it looks like all the problems are tied together in some way. Now the men have to figure out who is behind the attacks that are looking increasingly supernatural, as well as to figure out how to stop the ghostly killers without losing their lives in the process.

The Rising is the second full book in Morgan Brice’s excellent Badlands series. The series also includes the holiday novella, Lucky Town, as well as some short stories, set in between the novels. As the series follows Simon and Vic across the books, you will definitely get more out of this one if you are familiar with them and their relationship. However, the plot here stands alone and so you can definitely jump in here if desired.

As with the other books in the series, Brice does a fabulous job combining the ghostly paranormal with a law enforcement thriller, and tying it all together with a wonderful sense of place and history. In this case, we get to explore more about the pirates that used to terrorize the coast, as well as how some of the locals got involved in smuggling and other illegal activities. I loved the way Brice brings all these elements together, particularly with Simon and Vic’s investigations. The story starts out with a lot of seemingly unconnected pieces and slowly things all start to come together. The story gets thrilling and nicely twisty and I really enjoyed seeing how all the different elements end up connecting throughout the case. I did find that the ending was a bit confusing, as we end up with two different bad guys and keeping track of what role each played got a little complicated for me. But overall, I found the mystery and paranormal aspect to be really engaging and exciting, and I love the way Brice sprinkles in bits of history and local flavor into her stories.

I also really am enjoying Vic and Simon together. The men have been together long enough that they are happily settled into their relationship, but there are still some growing pains. The biggest issue the men struggle with here is the concern for the other’s safety as they both delve into the mysteries. I appreciated that we see Vic start to understand that the way he worries about Simon is similar to how Simon worries about him. And even more, that Vic realizes that he has to trust in Simon’s abilities. We can really see both of them growing in this regard, and there is a nice balance as each man has strengths in his own field, as well as his own vulnerabilities. So they are a well matched pair and we see their relationship continue to evolve nicely here. I just love these guys together and they are a great match, both romantically and also when they team up to investigate a case.

So this is another great installment in the Badlands series. I love the way Brice has combined the paranormal and the mystery thriller together so nicely in this series, and she caps it off with a wonderful sense of place and a dose of history. It all comes together really nicely and I am eager for more adventures for Vic and Simon.