This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Susan Lobban
Stella Arnold decided to study psychology at university when she discovered her father had psychotic tendencies. During her academic career she has focused on the criminal mind and jumps at the chance to further her education in the hallowed halls of Smith University in America. In the spring of 1962 she lands in Boston and has barely recovered from her jet lag when she is invited to a barbeque at the home of a friend of a friend. To Stella’s utter surprise the hosts are the Kennedys, but she needn’t worry as JFK and Bobby are beyond charming and put her at ease straight away. They are intrigued by the arrival of an English rose in their midst, but their interest is piqued even more when they realise she is more than just a pretty face.
Stella’s whirlwind tour of America continues when, by presidential request, she is flown to Florida to put her school learning to the test. Criminal profiling is a fairly new technique, but Stella is confident that she is an expert. The serial killer roaming the Florida Keys is bold and believes he is one step ahead of the police, but once Stella is on the scene he will no longer have the upper hand.On reading the synopsis, I was immediately drawn by the mention of the infamous Kennedys. I love reading about that part of American history, but had yet to read anything fictional. I was pleased to see they had not just been thrown in for the sake of it, the presence of JFK and Bobby in particular seemed realistic and more importantly relevant to the story. A chance meeting between them and Stella, at a time when a US state is being rocked by a terrifying serial killer, leads to an unlikely alliance. Stella’s self-assurance tends to grate at times, as she details all her accolades continually and describes how she is used to men falling at her feet all the time, but there is no doubting she does put the FBI in the shade with her vast knowledge.
One small niggle I had with the story is that I felt there was too much information given about Richard’s first book (which I did not realise was related), so much so there is little point of me reading that now I know the outcome. So, if you have his first book to read then read it first, but if not then consider this book a short cut into a new author.
There are no real twists in the story, but this is no detriment as I found the insight into criminal profiling fascinating. Throughout the book we are provided with glimpses of the serial killer and his inner thoughts, so there was no real mystery to the reader who he was, but the FBI are flummoxed until Stella turns up. This results in a classic cat and mouse chase and the heat is on in the Florida Keys to catch the murderer before any more women fall victim.
This book has it all – intrigue, tension and even romance with the captivating backdrop of 60s America. Richard Madeley manages to transport the reader back to a time gone by and to a story that leaves you hot under the collar following a psycho who brazenly walks around in the unrelenting glare of the Florida sun.