I've never been one for a serial killer book. I'm uncomfortable getting into a killer's head, and most of the serial killer books do give us the killer's POV so we know who they are, what their motivations are. I've never been that curious, since serial killers are, despite what we may see in books, TV, and movies, rather rare in the larger scheme of things.
That said, I have read two serial killer books recently that I found incredibly compelling. Both were written by friends, in full disclosure, but I am always happy to be able to like books written by my friends.
Kevin O'Brien recommended FINAL BREATH to me at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop's annual festival in early May. He said I might like it because it has a reporter character in it, and since I spent a long time as a newspaper reporter and editor, I decided to give it a go. Admittedly, it sat next to my desk for several weeks before I picked it up, uncertain again about the serial killer theme.
I was wrong. Really wrong. The book is intriguing and suspenseful, and I found myself caught up in Sydney Jordan's investigation into who is killing the heroes she'd interviewed. She is a hero herself, having saved a young kid from a fire just as her figure skating career was about to take off. Because she was badly injured, she now has a limp and her dreams never attained. There is a subplot with her son, who is trying to find out about the previous inhabitants of their apartment, victims of a suspected murder suicide. All the characters come alive, and I can see why Kevin has been on the New York Times bestseller list. I am definitely going to check out his latest book, VICIOUS.
I met JT Ellison in Denver at Left Coast Crime in 2008. She's a vivacious woman with a wonderful smile and a warm personality. She's also a wine snob, which in my book is a very good thing. I had never read one of her books, although I'm not quite sure why, until I snagged a copy of THE COLD ROOM at BookExpo America in New York at the end of May.
I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but I did not expect a serial killer book. And a very good serial killer book. JT writes a series featuring Nashville lieutenant/detective Taylor Jackson. Even though I didn't read the previous books in the series, it didn't matter. I was quickly introduced to the main players and got little tidbits of background that only intrigued me to check out the other books. I love Taylor, she's a very black and white person, it's all about right from wrong with no middle ground. That said, however, she has a complex personality and mixed feelings about her parents and upbringing. Her fiancee, Dr. John Baldwin, is a profiler with the FBI, and in this book, we meet her new partner, Renn McKenzie, who turns out to be far more well rounded a character than it seems at first glance.
Taylor and Baldwin are hot on the trail of a serial killer the media has dubbed The Conductor because of the classical music playing at the very staged crime scenes. Young woman are being starved to death, the killer then has sex with the body, and then carefully poses the body in a way reminiscent of a famous painting. This is not for the faint of heart or anyone who's got issues with necrophilia, but I was pleased to see JT didn't shrink from descriptions that were necessary for the story.
Do you read serial killer novels?