In this thriller, two ex-feds hunt a serial killer with 12 mutilated victims in as many years, all within a small Alaskan town.
Happy with their quiet life together, Elijah Warren and Aurelia Blanc are reluctant to take a case for their old boss, FBI Director Clint Adams. Someone has been killing a person annually for the last 12 years, starting in 1986 in the town of Grizzly. But when the murderer breaks the pattern by killing two people in under a week, a victim’s mother calls Aurelia (her last case with Elijah was a newsworthy event last year). The private investigators leave their Minnesota cabin only for a storm to strand them—and Capt. Riff, the pilot of their plane—in Grizzly. Posing as Census Bureau agents, Elijah and Aurelia question residents, who seem generally indifferent. As the storm intensifies, the murders continue, and the PIs ultimately dig into Grizzly’s tangled history, which includes a violent individual who had inexplicably vanished more than a decade ago. Elijah speculates on the killer’s identity but will soon have to narrow down his choices once the murderer contacts him, implying that he has a captive who could become the next victim. Cady’s (A Solitary Awakening, 2016) bracing sequel centers on a realistically imprecise investigation. Theories, for example, keep changing as the private eyes gather more information. Likewise, at least one character points out their rather flimsy cover (would the Census Bureau really be interested in a town of fewer than 100 inhabitants?). Parts of the narrative are grim, though none more so than an unflinching eye on one of the killer’s assaults: “Blood ejected and splashed the dark.” Intriguing perspectives from various townspeople (or neighbors, such as medical examiner Kendrik Montrose of nearby Seward) don’t make determining the culprit any easier. It all leads to a labyrinthine final act rife with exposition and confession. Thankfully, the explanation, while convoluted, stays within the realm of logic and manages a few more unnerving moments.
A dense, riveting tale starring a pair of private detectives who thrive in the murkiest circumstances.