UNSUB by Meg Gardiner ~ Serial Killer #CrimeFiction @MegGardiner1 #BookReview

Author: Meg Gardiner

Published: July 2017 by Dutton

Category: Crime Fiction, Murder, Suspense, Psychological, Book Review

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Recently appointed Narcotics Task Force Detective Caitlin Hendrix is taken to the scene of a gruesome murder, and recognises the man waiting for her. Senior Homicide Sergeant Joe Guthrie. When Guthrie shows her a body it hits her like a punch in the gut, taking her back twenty years to when her father, Mack, was the lead detective in the hunt for a serial killer. The Prophet, as he was called, was never caught and his subsequent reign of terror all but destroyed Mack, physically and mentally, as his obsession to catch the killer escalated. Then—after a five year killing spree—nothing. The trail and the case went cold. Now, after so many years, he’s back and has Caitlin in his sights. 

You cannot hide. Caitlin read the note again, feeling the glare of every officer in the cornfield. They were all watching her.

When another body is found at the scene, both bearing the distinctive and terrifying hallmarks of the Prophet, Caitlin transfers to the Homicide Division as the case is reopened. She is determined to do whatever she can to help track down the killer who haunted her childhood and crushed her father. 

Despite warnings from her family and colleagues, Caitlin is drawn into the Prophet’s games of confusion and deception. It’s personal for them both – the killer wants to conquer her like he did her father, and Caitlin knows only one of them can survive. 

Mack’s pulse hit harder. He didn’t dare say it, but he thought: The killer selected Caitlin. Every bit as much as he selected his victims. Caitlin didn’t get assigned to the investigation—she was part of the case. And the killer wanted her working on it. He put her on the playing field of one of the biggest unsolved serial murder cases in America.

His heart clutched. “Quit. Get out of town.”

But he saw her desperation. Fear for her swept through him. He wanted to pull her close and whisper, Run from this case. But her voice was full of fury and determination.

This is an intricately plotted and well crafted psychological thriller, beginning with the police procedural angle, getting better, twistier and more atmospheric as the story progresses. It’s fast paced, suspenseful and I enjoyed the fact we get to know about Caitlin’s personal life and relationships as well as her working environment. The romance with her FBI partner hit just right note and didn’t overwhelm the story.

Meg Gardiner doesn’t hold back when it comes to the more gruesome aspects perpetrated by the killer, who is one of the scariest ever. Her characterisations are excellent, well drawn and believable. The clever use of symbolism throughout, even down to the cover art—the symbol for Mercury—is integral to the story. Given that it was inspired by the real life Zodiac killer who was never caught, it’s not surprising. A very tense final quarter leads to an explosive, surprising and dramatic (cliffhanger) finale which will continue in the sequel.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Goodreads

Meg Gardiner writes thrillers set in California. The Evan Delaney novels, featuring a Santa Barbara freelance journalist, include 2009 Edgar Award winner China Lake. The Jo Beckett series features a San Francisco forensic psychiatrist. The Dirty Secrets Club won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008 and was chosen one of the year’s Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers by Amazon.com. Originally from Oklahoma, Gardiner practiced law in Los Angeles and taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She lives near London.

Author links ~ Website | Twitter | Facebook 

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