Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

A serial killer, The Stranger You Seek of the title one could say, is on the loose creating chaos and spreading panic over the city of Atlanta; the city where Keye Street, a private detective, lives. Keye used to work for the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI and could have had a bright future in the Bureau if it wasn’t for her drinking, which first led to her losing her job and then her marriage falling apart.
     Now, after being clean for a while, Keye runs her own P.I. firm, and spends her time going after small-time criminals, who somehow didn’t make it to the court for their trials, serving warrants and acting as an investigator for a big law firm. However, no matter how hard she tries to fill her days with work and nothing more than work, so that she’ll have no time to think about the past, she feels that something is really missing from her life. What? Love maybe, but also the chase. She misses chasing the really bad guys; those that provided her with a challenge. Thus, when the murderer called the Wishbone Killer gets to work, Keye is more than happy to help the police as a consultant. What they expect of her, of course, is not to capture the killer, but to create his profile, something that’s not going to prove easy to do. The person behind the murders seems to be highly intelligent and very organized and is not one of those people that leave anything to chance. He does his killings in an almost clinical way, leaving no trace behind, apart of course from his signature, which consists of certain cuts and bruises on the bodies.
     Despite everyone’s efforts, the perp remains free, the bodies keep piling up, and so does the pressure on the authorities. Thus those in power have to find a scapegoat to appease the spirits, even for a little while, and surely no one but Keye could be better for the part. The media, with the help of some of her so-called friends, will start digging into her past and dragging her into the mud, while the police after buying its moment of peace, will hire an ex-colleague of hers, an analyst who now makes a living appearing in trials as an expert witness and a name by showing up in one TV show or another, to offer his valuable input. Keye is sure that he’s not the man for the job, since he seems to have lost his work ethics, but that’s none of her business. However, she has no doubt that things are not the way they look and she’d like to do something about it; but what? Her hands are tight. Besides she has a lot of work to do of her own, so the cops, or rather their bosses, well, they can go to hell. Like it or not though, the case will keep following her, haunting her, since for some reason the killer wants her working on it and will do anything to keep her put.
     While all that happens we also get a chance to take a look at the personal life of the detective; a life that from the very beginning was set on the road to catastrophe, since death seemed to follow her every step. She spends every waking moment living with her personal phantoms and looks to be heading from one dead end to the next. Keye, simply seems to be one of those desperate souls who, however how hard they try, they can never be happy.
      The world that the author creates is bleak, just as bleak as the real world. Some of the subjects that occupy her mind, apart from crime of course are those of homosexuality, of the people that seem unable to fall in love, and of family relations that are kept together by a thin invisible thread, which can at any single moment break and thus break them.
     The Stranger You Seek is a finely crafted novel that could be read not only as a thriller but also as a travel story; a story that traverses the places and the souls of its heroes. A job well done.
     This book comes out in the US on the 30th of August.

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