Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.
Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.
Comment: Some of my friends who like thrillers a lot more than I do have been praising this author's work. I've never felt the need to try myself but I've seen this title at the library and it was the perfect excuse, therefore here it is my first attempt with a book by Robert Bryndza.
In this thriller we meet Kate Marshall, who used to be a police detective but a terrible case featuring a serial killer left a mark on her, since the villain was her boss Peter Conway, at the police, and they had a brief affair. She is the one who finally catches him and he was sent to prison, but this affected her career. Now, after 15 years, she works at a university and is still trying to cope with having been an alcoholic and having had a son with that serial killer. The problem is that now someone is replicating Conway's murders and this makes Kate wary but she can't help feeling the need to do something, for she knows if this copycat wants to be meticulous, he will go after her at some point...
I had no expectations on this book, only that I hoped the writing would be captivating, since other readers have praised the author's work. I only knew he writes thrillers and I knew this would be about investigating a case but it was a nice surprise to confirm the story was intriguing, if not completely original, and that I was interested in knowing what would happen next.
The story seems pretty simple, Kate is a woman who did something extraordinary in her past but that has affected her much more than she could anticipate and she became a drunk. She joined AA and is sober but we get a few scenes where she seems to struggle, making her experience a realistic one. She also had a child with the man who deceive her, she thought he was a regular guy and he turned out to be a serial killer. I think Kate's personality is well established, she is strong but not perfect and she wants to do the right thing, even though that is difficult. She also has a complicated relationship with her son, now a teenager, and I think this added some interesting dynamics to the story.
Kate decides to help a man who is looking for clues on his daughter's disappearance at the time Peter Conway was killing young women. He knows she might be dead but he wants closure and Kate feels like helping because the timing seems to fit, but that's when things start to be weird because a copycat - Peter is in jail - is replicating Peter's crimes. Two women have been found and Kate believes something more will happen. Although she isn't a detective anymore, she starts investigating with the help of her assistant at the university, Tristan. They do seem to accomplish things rather easily, I really struggle with these things, I feel it's not that simple to just go to someone's house or work and start asking questions if one isn't police, but...
The plot follows a pretty standard path from this moment on, as soon as the new killer starts his copying , the rest of the book is just like any other thriller. I didn't like the chapters we would follow Peter Conway's POV. I understand the author did it so that some details could make sense, but I tend to dislike having the villain's side of things, I feel it's too distracting and avoidable. As for the copycat. we only learn his identity closer to the end of the book, that is the "thrill" but to be honest, the reasoning for his behavior is very silly. I'm certain it is realistic and there are all sorts of psychological explanations for why his personality would be a psychopathic one, but...the connection with the original killer is just too thin and unlikely in my opinion.
I think there were a few scenes which felt a bit too far fetched, such as how Conway does one or two radical things while in prison and those are so easily accomplished, all things considered. I know the idea was to advance the story to a climax point but it got on my nerves the protagonism given to this character. For me, the story would have worked better if the focus had been only on the copycat and on the development of the main characters.
I liked reading the story and was curious to see how the crimes would be solved, how they would finally connect with the ones Kate faced in the past and in that regard, things happened more or less as expected. I didn't like some hints about possible issues in the future, such as the conversation about how Kate's son feels about who hi father is or that she might leave her job to just be a private detective and how that might affect her domestic life and her relationship with her son. I kind of wanted this part of the story to be solved more easily.
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