30 August 2011

The Stranger You Seek; Amanda Kyle Williams

The Stranger You SeekThe Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

FBI profilers seem to be the current rage, and with "Criminal Minds" doing so well in the ratings it didn't surprise me that I'd be reading mysteries starring one. Keye Street isn't actually a profiler, but she was one before her alcoholism got her kicked out of the BAU and into rehab. Now she's a private investigator in Atlanta, living in a loft-like apartment with White Trash (her formerly feral cat) and making a living serving subpoenas, tracking down bail jumpers and doing general detective/investigative work for a number of law firms.

The central case revolves around a serial killer, an unsub (yes, that term is actually used) who seems to have no preferred type of victim: one is a widowed Chinese mother, another is a older white male, while still another is a black woman in the suburbs. There are at least five victims over sixteen years, and the killer seems to be accelerating. After Lei Koto's murder, a letter is sent to the investigating detective, Lt. Aaron Rauser, taunting him; the letter is also sent to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the "Wishbone" killer goes public. Rauser, who has a BFF-like relationship with Keye, hires her for her profiling expertise.

As Keye and Rauser delve into the case, we meet a spatter expert (think Dexter, but without the murderous hobby), Keye's former FBI boss, Keye's family and ex-husband, her employee/computer hacker genius Reid, and at least one potential suspect. The action doesn't stay with just this one case, however, and in addition to other work in and around Atlanta, Keye also flies to Denver to meet with an embezzeling accountant and goes to northern Georgia on a lost cow case (don't ask). We do return to the Wishbone again and again, and I suspect the diversions are to keep the level of suspense and gore at a reasonable level.

Ultimately, of course, Keye figures out who the Wishbone killer is, although the ending isn't as tidy as some mystery writers would make it. Because this is a series, that's ok. I do wish that we didn't keep harping on her alcoholism, but these days not only are all detectives/investigators flawed, they're really flawed.

ARC provided by publisher.

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