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MURDERABILIA by Carl Vonderau


by Carl Vonderau

Pub Date: July 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7387-6130-5
Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

A respected banker's buried past makes him and his family the target of an obsessed copycat killer.

Personal banker William McNary, who narrates in a somber first person, harbors a dark secret: His father, Harvey Dean Kogan, was the infamous serial killer dubbed The Preying Hands. Kogan targeted women who abused children and turned their dismembered bodies into artful photographs. Though McNary’s a law-abiding family man, it disturbs him that his past as a photojournalist in war-torn Algeria obliquely ties him to his father. An even more troubled past is unearthed when a menacing man calls claiming to be McNary’s brother, then later tapes an envelope to the front door of his home. Inside is a picture of Leslie Miller, Kogan’s last victim. When the police don’t immediately respond to McNary’s call, he huddles with his family—wife Jill, young children Garth and Frieda, and sister Polly—and braces for more ominous contacts. The police finally do askMcNary to come in to the station, but only to interrogate him about the brutal murder of Elizabeth Morton, Jill’s friend and fellow teacher. After a review of some forensic evidence implicating him and some aggressive questioning that triggers his anger, they arrest him for the murder. Flashbacks meanwhile fill in sad details of his childhood and his time in Algeria. His father went to prison when he was 8, and they haven't seen each other since. Once McNary’s abrasive lawyer, Marta Gutierrez, manages to get him out on bail, he struggles to figure out how to catch the madman and protect his family. This debut eventually loses some steam, as if Vonderau lacked the expertise to portray its psychological twists with greater depth or complexity.

An explosive premise, intermittent chills, and a clever solution.