Monday, July 10, 2017

UNSUB ~ Meg Gardiner (earc) review [@MegGardiner1 @DuttonBooks]

UNSUB (#1)
June 27, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

The serial killer that people had thought -- or at least, hoped -- long gone appears to have returned and the people of the Bay Area are afraid. Perhaps, none more so than Caitlin Hendrix. The Prophet was a part of her childhood, investigating his crimes and trying to find him consumed, and nearly ruined, her father. Now he is back and it is her turn to try to find this UNSUB who seems to be the Prophet.

UNSUB gives readers crimes, both past and present, that are brutal, twisted and frightening but also work into something larger (albeit something brutal and twisted and frightening). I enjoyed that it was not obvious from the start what was happening, what was being worked towards or why. As the investigators worked to piece things together, to uncover messages' meanings, I did, too.

The way that Caitlin has a history with the Prophet's murders and those investigations but not with the detectives she is working with made for some interesting interactions. She was both the new kid, but also , in some ways, the expert. It also let the other detectives be a smaller part of the whole story which actually worked here; any long established friendships between them wouldn't have fit either time/space wise or within the plot.

We don't get quite as much of a connection with Caitlin's character as with other mystery, thrillers I've read with detective/police at the center (ie the Kathryn Dance, Max Revere, DI Helen Grace, or Taylor Jackson series). This was a big case to focus on and it did not leave as much personal/non-work time as there might have been in other books. Caitlin's relationship with her father, the role the Prophet and the cases played in ti and how things change during UNSUB was great, though. With the other characters we met here that are part of her life (Sean, Michele, even Shadow) I have very high hopes for more of a connection with her characters as the series continues.

The crimes, the investigation, how the pieces are put together the false leads and real clues and how the characters are impacted by it all, how they handle things and how they proceed made UNSUB a great thriller. UNSUB seems to be the start to a great new series - and you know you want to read it before the TV show. Book 2, Into the Black Nowhere will be out in January 2018.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

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