CHASING THE DEAD by Joe Schreiber


Email this review


A sadistic kidnapper sends a single mother on a harrowing all-night drive through small Massachusetts towns.

A short prologue, set in 1983, finds an unnamed boy and girl preparing to bury the body of a man they have just stabbed. Cut to a winter’s day in the present, with heroine Sue Young stuck in Boston traffic on her way home from work. When she gets there, young daughter Veda and nanny Marilyn are gone, but check in by phone. A few seconds later, a man whose voice Sue doesn’t know calls and informs her that he is holding Veda and Marilyn. A cat-and-mouse game begins, as Sue tries to rescue her daughter. After digging up a fetid package at the kidnapper’s request, Sue finds Marilyn’s corpse, eyes removed, in the front seat of her vehicle. Before long, the plot takes on supernatural dimensions, related to a serial killer of a generation ago known as the Engineer and an infamous 19th-century killer named Isaac Hamilton who, somewhat inexplicably, rates a statue in every town along Sue’s route. Corpses coming to life and the kidnapper’s knowledge of Sue’s secrets put her in a frenzied state. Police notice her car pulled over on the highway and spot the corpse inside, and she’s arrested on the spot. Sue tells everything to jaded Detective Yates, whose daughter Rebecca was a victim of the Engineer. Yates clearly doesn’t believe her; it looks like police resources will be added to the search for Veda, but no one has anticipated the power or the bloodlust of her kidnapper.

Grim horror story with a retro feel. Debut author Schreiber lacks finesse, but intermittently registers genuine chills.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-48747-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006