Robards (Sleepwalker, 2011, etc.) combines a few of her favorite themes in the first of a series featuring a psychiatrist with paranormal abilities who researches serial killers.
During her senior year in high school, Charlie Stone survived a vicious attack by a serial killer who slaughtered her friend Holly Palmer’s family and then abducted Holly. Her classmate’s body was found buried beneath the boardwalk less than a week later near the coastal North Carolina town where the family had lived. Dubbed the Boardwalk Killer, the murderer attacked several families with teenage daughters before the killings stopped, and the girls’ bodies were always found within a week following their abduction. Fast-forward 15 years, and Charlie is now a psychiatrist researching serial killers at a Virginia prison when FBI special agent Tony Bartoli and his colleague come calling. It appears either the Boardwalk Killer has resurfaced or a copycat murderer is on the loose. Since Charlie is an expert on aberrant behavior and has seen the Boardwalk Killer, the FBI wants her help. They must act quickly, though, if they want to save the latest girl to be abducted. The team heads to Kill Devil Hills, the site of the most recent crime, and Charlie quickly discovers that she’s brought along some extra baggage. The ghost of one of her subjects at the prison, a convicted serial killer named Michael Garland, has “attached” himself to her. (He claims he’s innocent, but DNA proves otherwise.) It appears that in addition to being a brilliant, beautiful, serial-killer magnet, Charlie also can see and communicate with the spirits of some victims of violent deaths. And hot-looking Garland just happens to fit the bill—he died of a stab wound in Charlie’s arms right before she left the prison. As the search for the Boardwalk Killer intensifies and Charlie wrestles with her attraction to the hunky dead serial killer, she has steamy erotic dreams about Garland that may or may not have actually occurred.
Is there a ghost of a chance that Robards can conjure up a more believable—and less repulsive—love interest for Charlie in her next installment than the ghost of a convicted serial killer? Sadly, probably not.