Title: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
UNSUB Series Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 381 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.
Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.
The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.
Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.
Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?
The first book in a new mystery series, UNSUB by Meg Gardiner is a high-octane police procedural about the search for a chilling serial killer known as the Prophet.
When a gruesome murder scene appears to indicate the Prophet has inexplicably begun killing after a twenty year absence, homicide detectives turn to narcotics Detective Caitlyn Hendrix for assistance. Caitlyn’s father, Mack Hendrix, worked the original investigation so police hope she can offer insight into the current case. Caitlyn is soon hard at work attempting to solve the cryptic message the killer leaves behind but can she succeed where her father failed and bring the killer to justice?
Caitlyn is incredibly smart but she is still an inexperienced detective. She also has a personal connection to the case which has the potential to cloud her judgment during the investigation. The first order of business is to figure out if the current murders are the work of a copycat and if not, why did the murders stop? Caitlyn is extremely focused as she attempts to figure out the meaning of the Prophet’s messages but she has made little progress when he strikes again.
The investigation has barely begun as the Prophet claims more victims. The murders are increasingly violent and carefully staged. Caitlyn is having a difficult remaining detached as the pressure mounts to understand the reason for the murders. The case takes a personal turn when Caitlyn’s boyfriend, ATF agent Sean Rawlins, goes missing right after she finally discovers the Prophet’s motivation for the murders, the cryptic messages and the elaborate staging at the crime scenes. With very little information to go on, Caitlyn, Mack and the rest of the team are in a race against time to locate Sean before it is too late.
UNSUB is an unbelievably fast-paced and engrossing police procedural. Meg Gardiner ratchets up the tension with back to back murders, enigmatic clues and increasingly grotesque staging at the crime scenes. The novel comes to an adrenaline-filled, pulse pounding conclusion that neatly sets up the next book in the series.