What is this about?: Yes, this is the second in the UBSUB series, but since this is released next year you have plenty of time to catch up. For this book, Caitlin is now a legit member of the serial crime unit. She and her team are called in on the disappearance of numerous women in Texas, and then on their murders. Caitlin’s profile sets her on the path to a charming, calculating suspect, but bringing him to justice is where the terror comes in.
What else is this about?: If you’ve read UNSUB, the first in this series, then you’ll know Caitlin Hendrix. You don’t need to read UNSUB by any means, other than if you want to I think. Gardiner creates enough of a picture of Hendrix here to give you enough to understand her. And that’s what’s key: this series is about Caitlin, about the newbie to the team and what shapes her.
Blurb: Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer
In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.
UNSUB is the appropriately creepy first in the series and from that blurb and from this one — bear with me — UNSUB provides the resolution to something that has driven Caitlin in her career (then) as a narcotics detective — and her relationship with her father and her family. When I began reading Into the Black Nowhere I saw a confident woman, acclimatising to her new team and learning, like us, how she’s going to work with them. It’s makes it easier to focus on the case and how the team works with it.
The team, the case and the TV series
Yes, this is being made into a TV series, so the comparison to Criminal Minds is a given for me — even though it’s a TV show and this is a book. I watched Criminal Minds religiously for years, before I got bored — or tired? I’m not even sure how to describe it, but there’s a point where it just lost me.
The difference here is Caitlin. This is a story about one woman trying to find her way in the team and her new job, and dealing with the cases she does…. so okay, maybe reading the first one might help if you want to build a bigger picture of Caitlin, but given that her new life begins with the team proper in this one, I’m not fussed about missing out.
She is in the team because of a personal loss, going so far as to leave her boyfriend and a romance behind to pursue this path. She is hungry to learn from the people in her team — Rainey and their boss Emmerich, and mercifully, they’re eager to trust her and her instincts.
They are in Texas, working on a case that becomes a sprawling, larger case involving more murdered women. Surprisingly — or maybe not surprisingly, given I don’t know Gardiner as an author — the chase for the suspect takes less than I thought it would before the book begins to explore him and what makes him tick.
Gardiner’s pacing is brilliant, and I was eating up chapter after chapter without even realising it. It’s very much a procedural atmosphere, and when the suspect is revealed and the investigation changes directions, she injects a quiet menace into the story, even as Caitlin remains as dogged as ever to get the suspect before the case reaches its conclusion. As I said, this is out next year, so you have plenty of time to learn why Caitlin Hendrix should be on your reading list!
This is my first Gardiner book and I am thoroughly kicking myself for not reading her work earlier! Have you read any of Gardiner’s books? What should I get to first?!