A teenager’s disappearance in an airport sets off a dramatic chain of events surrounding an escaped killer and some hard-won truths about love and possession—and how both can have disastrous consequences.
Forensic psychologist Kane (Legacy, 2016, etc.) parlays her knowledge of and experience with criminal behavior and trauma victims into this novel marking the first in the Doctors of Darkness series. The story features recent high school graduate Samantha “Sam” Bronwyn and her plucky best friend, Ginny Dalton, who travel to San Francisco for a post-school romp against her mother’s wishes. The girls’ dream escape vacation falls apart quickly when Ginny, wearing Sam’s basketball tournament jacket, seemingly vanishes from an airport bathroom without a trace, save for her cellphone. It displays a short message somehow involving Sam’s mother’s name, Clare. Befriending handsome fellow passenger Levi Beckett somehow softens Sam’s anxiety about her missing friend, though an escaped murderer from San Quentin named Cutthroat Cullen wanders the Bay Area undetected and frightens everyone citywide. Cryptic phone messages, a possible mistaken identity, and the determination that Sam was actually the abductor’s intended target are developmental plot points all smartly set against a moody, treacherous, foggy San Francisco backdrop. Adding romance to intrigue is Sam’s smoldering attraction to Levi and his “leather and soap”–scented swagger. As Cullen continues his murder spree across the city in the present day, Kane masterfully weaves in flashback chapters that fill in the killer’s homicidal history with a prison psychologist, who she really is, and how she became ensnared in his deadly head games. As both narratives run parallel to each other and the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, the author tosses in a few surprises—just enough to keep readers on their toes and the guessing game between Sam and Levi tightly drawn. Because the book is fast-paced and gripping, careful attention is required to absorb the tale’s abundance of crucial details. Though the action is consistently busy, everything ends up gelling nicely in the compelling novel’s final third when the search for Ginny intensifies and the clock ticks down toward a final showdown. This feverishly drawn thriller places Kane’s clever control of crime fiction and knack for memorable characters on full display.
A rigorously written and rousing murder mystery fueled by aggressive plotting and stocked with effervescent youth.