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STRANGER IN THE ROOM by Amanda Kyle Williams

STRANGER IN THE ROOM

By Amanda Kyle Williams

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-553-80808-7
Publisher: Bantam

Bodies are piling up in Georgia and a former FBI profiler uses her sleuthing skills to solve the cases.

Williams’ second in the Stranger series once again features private investigator Keye Street, a wisecracking Krispy Kreme addict with a cop for a boyfriend and a cat for a companion, who’s tough on cars and works as a bond enforcement agent to help pay the mortgage and finance her Krispy Kreme habit. This may seem like familiar territory for Evanovich and Grafton fans who are used to witty, quirky female protagonists, but the author adds a couple of unique twists to distinguish her lead character from others: Street is a Chinese-American adoptee with a Southern drawl, a flawed past and a Ph.D. And whether she’s in Big Knob, Ga., checking out a crooked crematorium owner who substitutes cement and chicken feed in the dearly departed’s urn, or in Atlanta looking into a break-in at her cousin Miki Ashton’s home, you can bet she’s surrounded by a whole slew of quirky characters, and yes, once again it’s familiar territory. As a seemingly unconnected series of murders occurs, including a 13-year-old baseball prodigy who is strangled, an elderly man shot to death and then hanged and a young woman raped and shot, Street partners with homicide detective and boyfriend Aaron Rauser to piece together the evidence and find the killer. Hired as a consultant with the APD, Street risks her own safety as she probes into the psyche of a man with a turbulent past that’s similar to her own. While exploring dark themes, Williams manages to infuse the story with frothy, amusing situations and dialogue. When she’s in this mode, her writing is solid and snappy, and her characters deliver some delightful zingers. But the author throws an occasional curveball into the mix that just doesn’t fit into the plot. 

The story works best when Williams keeps it light, unencumbered by heavy psychological and social issues.