A woman—pursued by a serial killer she identified—becomes enmeshed in romantic entanglements.
Cassandra Nelson seems to be on the fast track to success. She landed a great job at a bank in the financial district of San Francisco and moves into a new apartment in Nob Hill with a roommate, Laura. Shortly after Cassandra moves in, Laura is brutally murdered, and Cassandra provides a sketch of a murder suspect, which circulates throughout the city. Nick, the deranged killer, sees the sketch and vows revenge. Meanwhile, Cassandra leaves her apartment and her job, moves to Marin County, and goes back to school to study civil engineering. But Nick finds her, leaving a pile of bodies behind him. Cassandra falls for Lt. Daniel Charles Fritz, the lead detective on Laura’s case, but she also becomes involved with Matthew Kline, the defense attorney for Nick once he’s finally apprehended. Brand (The Perfect Socialite in Pacific Heights, 2017) focuses equally on Cassandra’s romantic foibles and the murder; Brand leapfrogs from one painfully predictable disaster to another. Also, she furnishes a complex psychological profile of Nick, a man deeply disturbed by the love/hate relationship he has with a narcissistic mother. The pace moves at a frenetic sprint, and there is no shortage of action leading up to a violently climactic denouement. Several plot points, however, are flat-out unbelievable. At one point, Nick lures Cassandra back to his apartment (he’s in disguise and poses as a fellow classmate), where he drugs and rapes her. She doesn’t recognize him, permits herself to be paired with him on a school project afterward, and returns to his apartment yet again. Also, the writing can be almost comically overwrought: “What should I do? she wondered. Will he think I’m easy, if I say yes? We haven’t even had a date. What would my Mom think?”
Taut suspense undermined by hard-to-believe moments and absurd interior monologue.