Marcus Sakey: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes

Marcus Sakey’s strengths as a writer are many, and all are on display here. This may be the strongest entry yet from this gifted suspense writer (though I still have a real soft spot for At the City’s Edge). His ability to set a hook is first up. In this book, the main character finds himself almost drowned on a Maine beach, freezing, alone, and without his memory. Luckily he climbs into a nearby BMW, cranks it up to get warm, finds some clothes that seem to fit, and he takes it from there. read more

P.J. Parrish: The Killing Song

While this isn’t in P.J. Parrish’s fine Louis Kincaid series, they (the sisters who make up P.J, Parrish) are pretty expert at whatever they turn their hands to, and this novel is no exception. It’s a serial killer novel with their own special twist. Their main character is a reporter, Matt Owens, who loses his sister to the killer early on in the book. The scenes of Matt’s search for his sister, and of his and his parent’s grief, is so movingly done that I was crying so hard (at the laundromat, no less) I had to put the book down for a bit. It’s this grief that sets this novel apart from any other serial killer novel. I guess what I really mean is that by having Matt’s sister be one of the victims, as a reader, you are fully invested in what happens, and totally behind Matt as he spares nothing in his search for his sister’s killer. read more

Julie Kramer: Killing Kate

This will be the most entertaining 24 bucks you spend all year. I’ve enjoyed all of Julie Kramer’s Riley Spartz books but I think this is my absolute favorite. It’s a serial killer book but by instead focusing on only one victim, Kate, the little sister of Riley’s estranged college roommate, Kramer makes this a more original reading experience. It also makes the murder more heartbreaking and, as a reader, you are far more emotionally invested than you would be with a long string of victims. Kramer has a few things she sticks to through the series – all are set in the world of television news, as main character Riley is an on-air reporter for a Minneapolis TV station. There’s often a sidebar story involving a dog – though this one is pretty heartbreaking, it gives the whole book more depth. And there’s lots of off hand humor. Riley looks at the world in a commonsensical, humorous manner that’s especially compelling. read more