A quirky hero who chases the worst of serial killers with a bit of supernatural help makes Kope’s debut novel a winner.
Magnus “Steps” Craig can see people when they’re not there. Well, not really. What Steps sees is what he and his FBI partner, Jimmy Donovan, refer to as “shine.” It’s like a colorful, textured left-behind residue that envelops everyone Steps meets; and each person’s shine is totally his or her own. Steps and Jimmy are the heart of the Special Tracking Unit of the FBI, which looks for lost and abducted people and the criminals who take them. For years, Steps has searched unsuccessfully for a terrible killer he knows as Leonardo, who leaves his victims posed like DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. But, so far, that killer’s remained at large. Now Steps and Jimmy, working out of their Washington state headquarters, are chasing a serial murderer they’ve dubbed The Sad Face Killer—a particularly vicious man who abducts young women, keeps them captive for a while, then brutally kills them. Steps knows the murderer’s shine and those of his victims, and he and Jimmy follow him from state to state and county to county, trying to catch him before he slays his latest captive. Kope, a professional crime analyst, brings a refreshing authenticity to his work, then raises the stakes several notches by giving Steps, from whose point of view the story unravels, a unique, funny, and intriguing voice. Crammed with characters who will capture readers' attention and writing that leaves much of the field in the dust, Kope’s novel features a character who is different, talented, sympathetic, and gifted with great heart. He’s surrounded by both ultracompetent investigative staffers and the worst criminals humanity has to throw at him. The combination is a winning one.
Kope’s fascinating debut will place Steps Craig alongside Walt Longmire, Jack Reacher, and Charlie Parker as an enduring literary hero.