Forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore knows her odd quirks and obsessive habits are a strength when she’s re-creating a crime, but when she investigates a 40-year-old serial-killer case, even she isn’t sure she can handle what she’s uncovering.
Rory works for the Chicago Police Department, reconstructing homicides. She’s so good at her work that Detective Ron Davidson not only tolerates her preferences (no touching, little eye contact, minimal social interaction), but allows her frequent breaks to recover from her total immersion in her work. One day Davidson asks Rory to meet with the father of a murdered young woman. Rory’s calming hobby is repairing china dolls, and the father wants his daughter’s doll repaired as a memento. But as Rory explores the woman’s murder, she gets pulled into the case of The Thief, a suspected serial killer who murdered young women in Chicago in 1979. Then, after Rory’s attorney father dies, she finds that he had been representing The Thief, who is about to be paroled. Alternating in time, the story follows Angela Mitchell, a woman with autism who becomes obsessed with studying the murders in 1979; and, in 2019, Rory, as one discovery leads to more surprises and questions. Donlea (Don’t Believe It, 2018, etc.) so vividly describes the tension the two women feel that the reader stays tense, too, as the stories escalate. He's also so careful about describing his characters' particularities that neither woman is portrayed as bizarre (although the people around them may think they are) but rather highly intelligent, tormented women determined to find the truth.
In Donlea’s skillful hands, this story of obsession, murder, and the search for truth is both a compassionate character study and a compelling thriller.