Top positive review
A must-read mashup of true crime and crime fiction genres about a serial killer
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 24, 2022
The atmosphere and detail in this novel seemed so real I was convinced I was reading about a series of actual murders. I had to go back to the cover to assure myself that the events described didn’t occur. The realism is due to the author, Richard Chizmar, blending his recollection of growing up in a small town with crime fiction about the murders of four teenage girls.
Richard is the main character, and readers experience the unfolding of events through his point of view. In the story, he has just moved back to his hometown to live with his parents shortly after graduating college. He plans to marry his steady girlfriend in the coming January, who is finishing her degree and still attending school. Richard is spending time with his parents doing chores and advancing his writing career by launching a magazine dedicated to horror stories. It is the summer of 1988, and Richard has no idea he will be directly involved in his own horror story in the next several months. Four innocent girls’ lives will be taken.
Richard’s parents are friends with several of the victim’s parents. Because Richard has just moved home and because of the proximity of his house to the murder victims, he becomes a person of interest interviewed by the police. He makes contact with a no-nonsense police detective with whom he forms an unlikely buddy relationship. His uneasy relationship with the principal investigator and his burning curiosity leads him to do some covert surveillance which lands him in hot water. With the assistance of a young female journalist eager to catch a big story, he tracks the clues.
There are plenty of false leads and red herrings. The killer molests his victims, cuts one of their ears off, and poses them. One intended victim got away and described him as wearing a burlap mask with the eyes cut out. Richard and his journalist friend become obsessed with finding the killer. They are convinced that the killer has intimate knowledge of the town and its residents. Richard suspects the monster is someone close, someone, he knows. He starts to get phone calls from the killer.
Because I like to read crime fiction and true crime, this novel gripped me and didn’t let go. Chizmar includes real photographs from his hometown and fabricates victim and crime scene photos using actors. This genre mash-up makes for a thrilling read with the suspense of a Stephen King novel and the gritty blow-by-blow details from authors such as Michelle McNamara and Ann Rule. Chizmar is a compelling writer. This story will appeal to all who are interested in crime stories.