Sunday, May 20, 2018

Stunning Crime Novel with Intense Twists, DEAD GIRLS by Graeme Cameron

Sick of all the book titles that use "girl" or "girls" lately? Don't let that delay your reach for Graeme Cameron's second book, DEAD GIRLS. This British author spins a complex and highly gratifying suspense novel in the most unusual "police investigation" I've ever read. And it opens with the ultimate unreliable narrator: Detective Alisha ("Ali") Green, whose brain can't handle even the basics of daily memory as she struggles to recover from a brutal attack by a serial killer who'd left her for dead. Between the pain, the understandable alcohol abuse, and the broken transmissions in what used to be a fine mind, Ali can't even tell for sure what's in her thoughts and what she's shouting out in front of her former partner, Kevin. "My heart sank, though I made the best attempt I could at keeping the horror from my face. How much had I said out loud? And why did I not know the answer to that?"

Turns out that the psychopath who's more than ready to finish the job of killing her has been killing plenty of other women, and tormenting those he's left alive. Even his "friends" know he's dangerous. And in acute twists of action and emotion, Cameron makes clear their damage and risk, as at the moment when Annie, a presumed witness to the brutality, retreating to her safely locked up home, spots a still-wet mug next to her kitchen sink, one she never ever uses:
Annie took a breath and waited for her heart to start beating. And when it finally did, she slumped to the floor in the corner of the kitchen, and shuffled back into the crook of the wall, and drew her knees up to her chest, and listened to the kettle boil, and cried and cried and cried.
Making things more dangerous is the extreme lack of experience with which Ali and Kevin's superior officer tackles the multiple victims and the hunt for the killer. There are already two dead cops -- will Ali be the next? And you're not expecting good decisions from Ali and her broken brain, are you?

The special pleasure of DEAD GIRLS is Cameron's highly believable knotting of support ties among the damaged yet seriously angry women who tackle this case. I'd suggest putting this onto the summer reading stack, but really, if you get a copy now, dump all the dull chores of the next few days and just immerse. It's worth it, with rewards in every twist, including the finale.

From Park Row Books, a suspense imprint from Harlequin.

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.

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