Been busy this week and also watching Wimbers so a slight lack of posts but here I am with a review of a simply terrific debut thriller The Stranger you Seek. And it is another one about a serial killer and have read quite a few of them over the last few months as publishers seem to have twigged I like a good crime story and I am getting them in droves now. Not complaining mind, but only a few of them really make the grade in the Simpson-Long Hall of Fame and they have to be pretty damn good to get on the list.
OK so this arrives and I read the blurb. Keye Street runs a private detective, bail bonds, investigative agency. A former rising FBI star with two university degrees and a brilliant track record in criminal profiling she left the police force because of her alcoholism, is divorced but still has the hots for her ex who seems able to manipulate her easily and life is pretty dreary.
"I had had once been called Special Agent Street. It has a nice ring, doesn't it? I was superbly trained for this kind of work, had done my time in the field before transferring to the National Centre for the Analysis of Violent Crime at Quantico as a criminal investigative analyst, a pro filer. A few years later, the FBI took away my security pass and my gun and handed me a separation notice"
Yes, my well used phrase Same Old, Same Old comes to mind and I began to purse the lips and sigh Hear we go Again. And then I started reading and became totally hooked.
Keye's old friend and mentor, Lietuenant Aaron Rauser, contacts her when it is clear that a vicious serial killer is on the loose and he needs her help. "The last sound she heard was the tiny crack of her neck, like a wishbone snapped in half".....the murderer becomes known as the Wishbone Killer and it is clear that that killer knows Keye and Aaron or is in their neck of the woods and has intimate knowledge of their lives.
The murders are particularly unpleasant, details of which I will spare you unless you read the book, and it is difficult for the investigating team to see the motives for the seemingly disparate colleciton of victims all of whom are a different gender, age and profession. It is Keye's assistant who picks up the hint of a common cause and then the hunt is on while the killer taunts Aaron and Keye:
"You are wondering why David was different, aren't you? What I did with him, where I did it, how I left him. All different. And William LaBrecque. He was different too. Have you even begun to figure out how? Here's what they both had in common. Both ere the kind of scourge that needs eradicating. Really, you must be haunted by all this. What have the analysts told you? The MO changes, that motive changes, that we learn and evolve, than humans are multi-determined? Your analysts know nothing abut me and neither do you"
Before I go any further I have to comment on Keye's attachment to her ex who is, quite frankly, a shit. Difficult to understand why he has this hold over her and even more so when it is clear that her old friend Aaron has feelings for her and, as well as being a good bloke, sounds rather dishy:
"I watched Rauser chewing the inside of his bottom lip while he stirred his coffee. He looked good with his jacket off, shoulder holster over a black T-shirt, biceps tight against the sleeves, gray slacks. I took a moment to appreciate that while he wasn't looking. Rauser had a few jagged edges, but he was a handsome guy if you're OK with the off the charts testosterone levels, the kind of guy who has to shave to the collarbone every morning"
Throw into the mix that he is in his early 50's and has black hair greying at the sides and immediately I saw George Clooney as Aaron. Mind you, I see George Clooney a lot if I sit back and close my eyes, but he seemed to fit this character perfectly and seeing this story as a film, which I frequently do when reading, starring Gorgeous George certainly added to my enjoyment.
Book well written, tight clean narrative, lots of clues, excitement and a gentle leading up the garden path at one stage - wrong direction of course, but I fell for it. By the time I was two thirds through I was thinking well WHO the Hell is it and then we find out and I was totally gob smacked when the identity of the murderer was revealed. There are doubts that it will be impossible to make the charges stick and that the killer would get away with it and then, just when I was thinking that it was going to come to a sombre and quiet ending, comes another stunning twist which totally took me by surprise and left me gasping. I didn't see THAT coming.
This is Amanda Kyle William's first book, though she has contributed to short story collections and has worked as a free lance witer for some time. She lives in Atlanta and, in order to research this book, she studied criminal profiling and took law enforcement courses in her home town. This is her first novel and she is working on a second, also featuring Keye Street.
Already eager to read that one when it comes out. If you are a lover of crime fiction and thrillers, then please get hold of this one. One of the best I have read for a long time and it comes from Headline publishing who sent me American Devil by Oliver Stark, another stonking serial killer debut novel. They seem to have a knack for spotting good crime writers and I am grateful to them for sending me this latest. A winner.
The Stranger you seek is published in the UK on 4 August but nothing to stop you pre-ordering......