A serial killer runs amok in San Diego in Johansen and Johansen’s latest to feature Sherlock-ian music therapist Kendra Michaels.
Kendra (Night Watch, 2016, etc.) was blind until she was 20, and her other senses are highly developed, making her an in-demand resource for the FBI and the CIA, so when FBI Special Agent Roland Metcalf and his new partner, Gina Carson, appear at her studio, asking for help tracking down a serial killer, she reluctantly agrees. The killer is leaving items at his crime scenes that don’t seem to fit, and it’s not long before they’re linked to past crimes. Metcalf assembles a team of detectives who may have come up against the killer’s grisly work in the past, while Kendra calls on a friend, tough-as-nails PI Jessie Mercado, for assistance. When former FBI agent Adam Lynch, fresh off a freelance assignment in China, insists on helping, Kendra, who has resisted getting involved with him despite his feelings for her, reluctantly agrees, and the game is afoot. Kendra is an interesting protagonist, and the push and pull between her and Adam adds spice, but stereotypes abound, especially in the group of cops, which includes the grizzled cop haunted by unsolved cases, a swaggering superstar who lays on the charm, and a young techie who dazzles with his cyberprowess. The killer’s narrative is interspersed throughout, and it’s easy to picture him as an old-timey villain twirling his mustache and laughing maniacally as he plots his next murder and sets his sights on Kendra. The authors do have a gift for zingy dialogue, and a booby trap the killer sets is inventive and genuinely scary. When the ample body count hits very close to home for Kendra and Co., they’ll of course need all their resources to catch him.
The authors tick off all the thriller boxes and then some, but they offer nothing new to distinguish this book in a crowded field.