Nail-biting thriller about a vicious serial killer with a particularly creepy MO.
On their way home from school, three fifth-graders take a detour through a neighboring woods and oh, how they’ll wish they hadn’t. It’s a fateful detour with agonizing consequences that will render their lives nightmarish. They stumble on the corpse of a young woman, insanely mistreated, and yet there is method to the madness: “Eyes glued shut. Mouth glued shut. See no evil. Speak no evil.” A message certainly, but exactly how to interpret it? The badly shaken ten-year-olds are all pupils in a class taught by Anne Navarre, who comes upon the crime scene a few minutes later. Anne is a young woman with her own firsthand experience of childhood trauma, sufficiently hurtful to make her instantly empathic. She cares deeply about her students, senses the possibility of long-term damage and, wanting only to help, finds herself contending with entrenched parental obtuseness. Enter Vince Leone, an FBI profiler dispatched from Washington who soon enough will also be caring deeply—for Anne. Meanwhile, the local cops plus Vince have come to realize that whatever fixed idea the “See-No-Evil Killer” is possessed by, he has now proclaimed it at least three times. Clearly, they have a sociopath on their hands, one of the self-anointed brilliant kind who gets off on playing catch-me-if-you-can with slow-witted, outclassed cops. The investigation intensifies, the suspect list narrows, but fear grips the quiet California community of Oak Knoll, 20,000 people no longer convinced that “things like this don’t happen here.”
Once again, bestselling Hoag (The Alibi Man, 2007, etc.) plots craftily and creates characters readers root for.