Title: The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen
Stevens & Windermere Series Book Six
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 367 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
They are the victims no one has ever cared about, until now. Agents Stevens and Windermere return in the blistering new crime novel from the fast-rising, multi-award-nominated suspense star.
She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.
But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked.
The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen is a fast-paced and spellbinding police procedural about a hunt for a serial killer preying on woman on the fringe of society (runaways, prostitutes, etc). Although this is latest release is the sixth installment in the Stevens & Windermere series, it can easily be read as a standalone.
FBI Agent Carla Windermere and BCA Agent Kirk Stevens are called in to investigate a man, Mark Higgins, who has a picture of a dead woman on his cell phone. He says he has no idea how the picture ended up on his phone and when Stevens and Windermere learn the dead woman was found by the railroad tracks in Idaho, they decide to investigate the odd series of events. They quickly discover there have been rumors of serial killer (known as the “Ghost Rider”) who preys on women not far from the High Line-the trains that run between Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA. With the help of local Deputy Sheriff Kerry Finley, Kirk and Carla have identified twenty-five dead women who are most likely the victims of the ghost rider and they are hot on the trail of the killer and an at risk young woman they have identified as Mila, a friend of the last victim. With a massive winter storm bearing down on them, Kirk, Carla and Kerry are one step behind the elusive killer who is very much at home in the vast wilderness that serves as his home and his hunting grounds.
Carla and Kirk’s investigation picks up steam immediately as they figure out how the picture of the deceased girl ended up on the stranger’s cell phone. Using the other photos that Mark insists he did not take, they are able to track her travels, as well as those of her friend, Mila. Realizing almost immediately that Mila is in grave danger, they quickly issue a bulletin for the railroad bulls and workers to be on the look-out for her. Carla’s boyfriend, Agent Derek Mathers, puts his computer skills to work and uses the various photos’ metadata to pinpoint Mila’s whereabouts. Tracking her movements, Kirk and Carla soon realize that Mila has figured out the identity of the ghost rider, but will they find her and the killer before it is too late?
A solid police procedural with an unusual storyline, The Forgotten Girls is a pulse-pounding mystery that is quite enthralling. Once Windermere and Stevens know the killer’s identity, the manhunt is quickly thwarted by the weather and the vast territory they must cover during their search. Tracking a diabolical killer who is intimately familiar with the terrain is a herculean task but Kirk and Carla know they have to capture the ghost rider before he permanently disappears into the wilderness. Old and new fans of the clever investigative team in the Stevens & Windermere series are going to love this latest high-octane thriller by Owen Laukkanen.