‘Stalker’ by Lars Kepler is a wild ride
When the lead detective in a crime novel is
introduced as an expert on “serial killers, spree killers, and
stalkers,” you know you’re in for a rough ride. And when you read the
descriptions of the killings in the early chapters of “Stalker,” you’ll
feel like you’re plunging down the first steep descent on a roller
coaster — you’ll want to scream with abject terror. The beginning of the
new book from husband-and- wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and
Alexander Ahndoril, writing as Lars Kepler, was as gripping as it was
Police in the Swedish National Criminal Investigation
Department receive a link to a short YouTube video showing a woman in
her bedroom, putting on a pair of black tights, filmed secretly from the
outside. Soon after, the woman is found murdered, her face mutilated by
multiple stab wounds in a horrific attack. When a second video is
received, Detective Margot Silverman knows a serial killer is on the
The accounts of the killings are very explicit,
written in vivid, sickening detail, and the first chapters felt
excessively graphic. Once the hunt for the killer begins in earnest, I
was happy to leave the horror of the early murders behind.
Silverman enlists a hypnotist and psychiatrist, Erik
Maria Bark, to help unlock the mystery, and Detective Joona Linna (from
previous Lars Kepler novels) returns to play a starring role. Bark tries
to discover clues to the killer’s identity by hypnotizing a
brain-damaged ex-priest who had been imprisoned for a crime similar in
nature to the newest stalker-video-murders. Bark scours the broken
memories of the ex-priest, wondering if he had an accomplice or if he
didn’t in fact commit the earlier crime and the killer has been on the
loose the entire time.
As “Stalker” unfolds, you’ll encounter false leads,
angry thugs, a drug den, closely kept secrets, jealous co-workers and
improbable escapes. It’s a wild ride as the killer hunts for victims and
the police pursue the stalker.
The fast-paced chapters and devious plot twists left
me hypnotized and eager to find the stalker’s identity. Now, I might
just want to be hypnotized to have the images of the murders purged from
my memory. (AP)
‘Out of the Dark’ is a great thriller
Evan Smoak was
trained to be Orphan X, and his first assignment over 20 years ago
seemed to be successful. Now the other elite team members of that
mission have been eliminated one by one. Evan investigates and realizes
that the man who started the Program that turned him into an assassin is
cleaning up and having the other orphans killed as well. Rather than
wait for the inevitable, he decides to go on the defensive and take out
the man who started the orphan Program. Why is his former superior now
taking out these operatives? Nonetheless, it will take more than
meticulous planning and skill to succeed, since this man is the most
heavily guarded person in the world: the president of the United States.
The president knows
he has to fight back, so he pulls his very first recruit, Orphan A, out
of a federal penitentiary. Orphan A has no moral values, and his first
job is to murder all potential witnesses before he kills Orphan X. With
the help of two fellow inmates who find pleasure in inflicting pain on
others, Orphan A knows exactly how to get Orphan X once and for all.
Evan always tries
to do the right thing, and he goes out of his way to help others who are
dealing with insurmountable odds. He usually levels the playing field by
his skill set, but this time he might be outmatched.
“Out of the Dark”
by Gregg Hurwitz takes the reader on a journey that covers a wide range
of emotions from potential love to outright terror. The relentless
action and detailed mission planning make the tale both clever and
smart. Hurwitz continues to profile this stellar character and improve
with each new installment. It’s only the end of January, but this novel
will be remembered as one of the best thrillers of the year. (AP)
‘Nowhere Child’ is Christian
White’s stunning debut
Oline H. Cogdill
A young woman’s fond memories of her
happy childhood and loving parents are turned upside down when she learns
she may have been kidnapped more than 28 years ago in “The Nowhere Child,” a
stunning debut by Christian White.
The perceptive plot of “The Nowhere
Child” works well as a story about the extremes that one will go to protect
loved ones as well as a tale about what makes a family. White skillfully
creates a credible story filled with surprises and realistic characters
worth caring about.
Kim Leamy has a quiet life teaching
photography at a school in Melbourne, Australia. Her loving mother, Carol,
recently died but she has a solid relationship with her supportive
stepfather, Dean. While she isn’t as close to her half-sister Amy, she knows
she can always count on her.
Kim’s life changes when she is
approached by an American, James Finn, who tells her that she may be Sammy
Went, who was kidnapped from her home in Kentucky when she was 2. Kim
doesn’t believe him. She has her birth certificate and her family has always
lived in Australia.
Not only does James have reams of
paperwork, he also has a DNA sample that he surreptitiously took from her
that definitely proves that Kim is Sammy, and that he is her brother. Kim
finds it hard to believe that the warm, happy home in which she was raised
was the result of a crime. She agrees to go to Kentucky with James to find
out what could have happened.
White seamlessly moves “The Nowhere
Child” from the present, as Kim tries to piece together a lifetime of lies,
back to the incidents 28 years ago that may have led to an abduction.
White shows life in a small Kentucky
town, the Went family divided by religious fanaticism and a spiritual leader
who encourages snake handling without deriding small towns or religion.
Despite the evidence that James presents, suspense mounts as the plot
explores the decades-old secrets that the Went family held close.
The appealing Kim’s confusion over
whether to doubt her childhood or accept this new dysfunctional family adds
to the tension in “The Nowhere Child.” (AP)