Kay Hooper (aka Kay Robbins) is a mystery writer currently residing in North Carolina. She was born in 1957 or 1958 (sources vary) in a California air force base hospital as her father was stationed there. Kay and her sister Linda own an independent bookstore, Fireside Books and Gifts. She made her literary debut with Lady Thief, which she sold to Dell Publishing in 1980. Since then she has penned well over 60 novels, including some novellas. Kay seems to favor a solitary lifestyle, living and writing in a small North Carolina town and sharing her life with a flock of cats and two friendly dogs. Little is known of her life other than what she chooses to reveal.
Kay Hooper is chiefly known for the Bishop / Special Crimes Unit (SCU), a series which centers around a Special Crimes Unit in the FBI. The unit consists of regularly trained agents with a “psychic edge” to them. Noah Bishop, the leader of SCU periodically spots people with paranormal abilities and asks them to work for the FBI. He can well be called the main character of the mystery series, and maintains an enigmatic presence – but is not the protagonist – in all of the books.
Kay Hooper is a writer with a distinctive style, which has garnered a lot of praise from readers and has repeatedly catapulted her into the New York Times bestsellers list. Her plots are quite characteristic of the mystery genre, with readers sometimes being enthralled and sometimes appalled by the coldness of interpersonal relationships in her books. Her books include not only paranormal and crime-related but also sexual encounters that are written in daringly graphic prose.
Bishop / SCU — Enter Bishop and the SCU
Bishop / SCU is the title of a series that begun with the Shadows trilogy in 2000. The series, as we mentioned before, centers around a crime unit of the FBI that has agents endowed with psychic properties. There are currently four complete trilogies and a trilogy that will have its 3rd chapter, Hostage released on November 26th, 2013. We will here take a look at the initial trilogy, specifically, its 1st and 3rd books in order to gain a wider perspective of the series’ beginnings.
Humble Beginnings: Stealing Shadows
Stealing Shadows is the first book and admittedly the author follows her knack many a time, not knowing where her imagination will take her next. The book describes a psychic, Cassie Neill (notice the rather bland Greek myth parallel with Cassandra the prophetess) who acts as a psychic helper for the L.A. police, until a child dies because of her. She then flees – like Kay Hooper herself, pointedly, – to a North Carolina town, but obviously there’s no escaping her powers and she discovers that a murderer is indeed in close vicinity. Cassie herself quickly becomes a suspect as the local sheriff has no time for paranormal activities in his town, but does remember that Cassie predicted the victim being propped against a tree with her her tilted and lips parted as if she were crying. The killer is himself a psychic; this fact adds to the suspense of the novel as Cassie’s wanderings into his mind can cause her to be trapped there if he senses her presence.
The drama unfolds with the local judge Ben and Cassie slowly becoming involved in a love interest, with her being typically chilly as is the case with telepathic people. Hooper’s prose is for the most part consistent and her plots suspenseful and imaginative. The actual explanations of the psychic abilities of the characters sound very plausible, with Hooper obviously having done her part of research in the topic. Bishop himself appears about halfway in the novel and it’s soon revealed that he shares some psychic powers as well. He is an enigmatic figure who seems to know everything, but appearance seems to be all as the characters, including Bishop, are inherently ignorant if and when it suits the plot. The ending involves a twist, which can indeed be deduced and will be if you are an avid reader of mystery novels.
Knowing Bishop: Out of the Shadows
The finishing book in the trilogy in turn focuses on Noah Bishop, his character, past and his role in the SCU. Past subplots are embellished and readers who want to skip past the first books to read the more acclaimed new novels are highly encouraged to pick at least this book up as it’s a vital insight in the title character of the series.
The story starts with Miranda Knight, a sheriff in a small town. Being helpless in stopping a killer from attacking teenagers, she calls the FBI and this is how Noah Bishop comes into action. Their past is revealed in tantalizing bits, and this is arguably the best developed part of the book. Miranda doesn’t want to reconcile with Bishop, who seems to have let her trust down in the past, causing a major disaster in Miranda’s life. However, as the plot unravels it becomes indicative that they must work together to solve the mystery. Readers who love TV series like Criminal Minds will love Bishop’s profiling that adds greatly to the novel.
Some Further Words on Book 3 and Kay Hooper
Now, it is true that it is possible to guess the killer from the evidence that Kay Hooper gives the reader throughout the novel. However, the ending is the one thing the book could do without. To call something “unbelievable” might be a cliche, but in this case doing so only indicates the obvious. Kay Hooper herself would likely have to resort to something psychic to show how the ending fits. Such endings are characteristic of writers that have far less talent than Kay.
Even despite this, in books where Hooper abstains from resorting to such methods to untie the plot she is at her best. Even Out of the Shadows shines where it doesn’t have to be too logical, and her knowledge of paranormal has indeed raised questions if the author herself has some knowledge of the truly occult. Hooper is an imaginative writer, and her oeuvre, spanning over 60 books in 30 years (which would drain most writers out) doesn’t indicate a form of graphomania; on the contrary, here we see a writer who cannot help but share the workings of her intricate mind, ever bent on the unusual, the dark and the mysterious.
Books in order of publication by series:
|Adelaide, the Enchantress||(1987)|
|The Delaney Christmas Carol||(1992)|
|The Fall of Lucas Kendrick||(1987)|
|In Serena’s Web||(1987)|
|Raven on the Wing||(1987)|
|Shades of Gray||(1988)|
|It Takes a Thief||(1989)|
Once Upon A Time… Books
|The Glass Shoe||(1989)|
|The Lady and the Lion||(1990)|
|Through the Looking Glass||(1990)|
|What Dreams May Come||(1990)|
Lane Montana/Trey Fortier Books
|Crime of Passion||(1991)|
|House of Cards||(1991)|
Men Of Mysteries Past Books
|The Touch of Max||(1993)|
|Hunting the Wolf||(1993)|
|The Trouble With Jared||(1993)|
|All for Quinn||(1993)|
|Hiding in the Shadows||(2000)|
|Out of the Shadows||(2000)|
|Whisper of Evil||(2002)|
|Sense of Evil||(2003)|
|Once a Thief||(2002)|
|Always a Thief||(2003)|
|Chill of Fear||(2005)|
|Sleeping with Fear||(2006)|
|Fear the Dark||(2015)|
|Wait for Dark||(2017)|
|Hold Back the Dark||(2018)|
Bishop Files Books
|The First Prophet||(2012)|
|A Deadly Web||(2015)|
|Mask of Passion||(1982)|
|On Wings of Magic||(1983)|
|Taken By Storm||(1983)|
|Kissed By Magic||(1983)|
|If There Be Dragons||(1984)|
|Eye of the Beholder||(1985)|
|Time After Time||(1986)|
|Larger Than Life||(1986)|
|Belonging to Taylor||(1986)|
|On Her Doorstep||(1986)|
|Rafe, the Maverick||(1986)|
|Summer of the Unicorn||(1988)|
|The Haviland Touch||(1991)|
|Eye of the Beholder||(1994)|
|The Haunting of Josie||(1994)|