Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: "Into the Black Nowhere" by Meg Gardiner

Meg Gardiner, Meg Gardiner, Meg SLAY me! Reading UNSUB a month or two ago just blew me away, and here you are again, with another heart-pounding, completely riveting novel featuring FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix. What an amazing series this is turning out to be!!

In a little town called Solace, Texas, women are literally disappearing on Saturday nights. One moment they're there—on a concession line at a movie theater, in a mall parking lot, in their car stopped at a railroad crossing, even at home with their baby—and the next second, they're gone. There are no signs of struggle. Did these women go willingly?

Caitlin Hendrix, a rookie FBI agent recently assigned to the agency's Behavioral Analysis Unit, heads to Texas to help determine whether there's a serial killer preying on women in this town just outside Austin. When they find their first bodies, they discover a disturbing, gruesome sight—the women, both blonde, have been meticulously laid out in white, baby-doll nightgowns, with full makeup. Their wrists are slashed and they lay face up, almost like sleeping princesses, and their bodies are surrounded by Polaroid pictures of other victims yet to be found, posed in the same way.

As she and her colleagues try to make sense of just what kind of person would be the mastermind behind such a crime spree, the killer strikes again, outside of Solace, in order to throw the FBI off his trail. But with the help of a tip from a woman who has lived most of her life in fear, they find their man—a handsome, charismatic businessman who can gain a woman's trust in a split second, and isn't afraid to depend on a little subterfuge if necessary. He immediately identifies Caitlin's own demons, and tries to use them against her in an effort to disarm her.

The FBI finds themselves in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse once the killer uses his intellect and charm to make a fool of them. From Wyoming to Oklahoma to the Pacific Northwest, Caitlin and her colleagues try to gain the upper hand on this man before he kills again—and try to figure out just how he's able to get the information and advantages he needs. It's a race that could prove deadly to more than his usual victims, and one which could put Caitlin's mental state at risk as well.

This book, much like the first in this series, had me from page 1 and left me breathless until the very end. Gardiner is so skilled at giving you just enough evidence but leaving you in the same place as the FBI, so you aren't frustrated by knowing more than the crime fighters do. There are some terrific action scenes in this book, worthy of the best thrillers, and Gardiner also pays close attention to character development.

In UNSUB, more attention was paid to Caitlin's relationship with ATF agent Sean Rawlins, and I like the interaction between the two of them. I missed that in this book, although clearly there are some plot points which I guess are setting up the third book in the series. (Plus, Gardiner makes Sean sound seriously sexy, so that's always a welcome distraction from the profiling work, lol!)

This is truly one of the best series I've read in some time, and I will breathlessly await the next book in the series, even though my wait will be a little longer than it was between books 1 and 2! Into the Black Nowhere is just excellent. You can't go wrong with these books!!

NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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