The whole first half of Night Serpent unfolds in a murkily confusing way with flashbacks of past lives, and a mysterious and cryptic phantom cat entity, all mixed in with weird typical suspense novel fodder bits involving the insane killer. It isn't until Catwhispering cat-aphobe Lily, who has disturbing dreams of failure in former lives that she doesn't remember upon waking, finally has a break through and connects with that past, that the story picks up. Lily's love interest FBI profiler Jon is charming and manipulative and a perfectly fine leading man, but the relationship along with everything else in the story was a bit rushed. I was really excited about Night Serpent when I discovered that Anna Leonard is the pseudonym for Laura Anne Gilman, the author of my beloved Retriever series, but even with an action packed climax, the book on the whole ended up being an just okay read.
As aversion therapy to combat her lifelong terror of cats, Lily's volunteer job at a Cat rescue center makes use of her unusual `animal magnetism' - while Lily fears them, cats have always been drawn to her - and Lily's calming effect on the felines has earned her the nickname of `Cat Whisperer'. When Lily is called upon by local law enforcement to give her take on a crime scene where cats have been ritually sacrificed, she crosses paths with FBI special agent Jon Patrick whose specialty is stopping the perpetrators of animal violence from taking the next step to humans and becoming serial killers. But the killer, the Night Serpent, is not just your every day wacko, the sacrifices have a paranormal tie-in and when cats don't seem to be opening a mysterious otherworldly gate, the killer decides that the Cat Whisperer is the key that needed to open the gate. In order to balance karma from a previous life Lily will allow Jon to use her as bait, but Lily has already lost to the Night Serpent in a past life, will she survive in this one?