"Mourning Dove" by R.R. Campbell: Is It A Worthy Continuation Of the EMPATHY Series?

§ I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

After the EMPATHY study found its abrupt end, the effected person are trying to survive the aftermath. For Chandra, this means living with a smart virus inside her head, Ty wants to use his knowledge for the good but both want to move on and forget that EMPATHY ever happened. Chandra's wife - Kyra - won't have any of it and wants to make the truth public.

Meanwhile, Alistair - who took over the EMPATHY study from his father - would want anything but that to happen and still works on a plan to come out of the affair without a dent to his reputation. The NAU can't let this whole thing pass without finding the guilty person to blame for the lives lost during the study.

Mourning Dove by R.R. Campbell
Due to this new plot line, "Mourning Dove" does not quite read like the prior part. Instead, it has similarities to a court-room thriller: the NAU panel tries to dig for the truth but the Hallmanns work them like they are nothing but puppets on strings. At the same time, Ren is trying to figure out if her former colleague who reported on EMPATHY is still alive. In doing so, he slips into the center of another conspiracy. This time even more deadlier.

"Mourning Dove" mirrors the sentiment of a plot that slowly climbs towards the climax and everything falls apart in the end, just that this time, not all plots are incorporated towards the end. Instead there are three plots-lines that happen at the same time and barely connect. This marks "Mourning Dove" as a transition book: It ties the loose knots that had been left in "Imminent Dawn" but also creates new mysteries for the books to come.

Due to this characteristic, Campbell focuses more on human fault and misunderstanding in relationships. While the characters' workings are discussed, action takes a backseat. This also plays a role, when you pick up the series with this book instead of "Imminent Dawn".

Campbell takes the time to add vital information from prior events so you can follow the story, but empathizing with the characters and wanting to take a harder look, is not easy to do when, for example, you haven't "lived" through Chandra's motivations and selflessness on the EMPATHY compound.

Through this change in plot and slight genre shift, the whole pace of the book is slowed down. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that I had been bored, I also hadn't had a strong urge to pick it up when I had put it down. It was an easy read but not one that made you turn the page because you need to know what happened next. Only halfway through the story, the pace picks up as the plot starts to come together and the "I need to know what happens next" moments appear towards the last few pages. After all, I need to know what is going to happen to Ren, Chandra, and Ariel. At the same time, this makes "Mourning Dove" a slower than expected read, I felt that the change of pace had come a little too late.

Overall, "Mourning Dove" provides a fitting continuation of the EMPATHY series. Campbell becomes more at ease with the characters and explores their workings, while at the same time, he laid out new plots and mysteries. Clearly a transition book, it gives you hints at what our "heroes" are going to face next. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book of the series

(pretty please - cc: NineStar Press and R.R. Campbell) 

Mourning Dove by R.R. Campbell
Published2019 by NineStar Press
Series:EMPATHY #2
Goodreads:Add to shelf


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