In Rappoport’s debut thriller, a woman narrowly escapes a serial killer’s clutches—but she and her friends may be next on his hit list.
The bizarre mutilation death of police officer Gwen Stevens shakes a small Los Angeles–area community. Soon after, someone attacks park ranger Ellie Sherman. She manages to escape after waking up hogtied, only to find herself a person of interest in a murder investigation. Local cops found a vagrant with his throat slit, and they don’t believe Ellie’s claim that she blacked out at the time of her assault. Detective Regina Metcalf tries to pin the man’s murder on Ellie—and possibly Gwen’s, as well. The killer, meanwhile, is determined to eliminate the woman who got away, and as a result, Ellie’s pals, Celeste Gold and fellow ranger Jane Harrington, are in danger of becoming his next victims. Rappoport’s novel is a tense tale of a woman’s life after a psychopath’s savage attack. Ellie is understandably paranoid, and her fears only worsen as she recalls further details of that fateful night. Her relationship with LA police officer Jake Roselli, too, is devoid of poetry and flowers—their intimacy is instead defined by raw, sometimes-brutal intensity. Ellie’s back story as a soldier in Iraq, before she was discharged for a violent act against a superior officer, gives readers insight into her behavior and makes Metcalf’s suspicions seem more logical. The snippets about the killer, in contrast, show only a glimpse of his history—not enough to make him menacing but more than enough to substantiate his mental instability and disturbing resolve. The author’s partial focus on Jane, however, is far less perceptive; for much of the novel’s first half, she takes the reins as a main character. She’s intriguing in her own right, but the details regarding her hypochondriac husband, Richard, and her sometimes-hostile neighbor Norman don’t add anything to the tale of Ellie’s more absorbing personal struggle. The book definitely earns its ferocious final act, however, with a shocking murder and would-be victims fighting back.
A thriller with tense scenes of characters in peril and a tormented protagonist who is truly exceptional.