Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Into the Black Nowhere

Title: Into the Black Nowhere (UNSUB #2)
Author: Meg Gardiner
Genre: Adult | Thriller | Mystery | Murder
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 30. 2018 
Source: Library
Format: Physical

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 (goodreads).

Into the Black Nowhere was the perfect follow up to UNSUB with an emphasis on Hendrix's emotional side.  
Plot: Into the Black Nowhere opened a few weeks after UNSUB; Hendrix was a part of the FBI as a profiler but still seen as a rookie. Into the Black Nowhere dealt with Caitlin Hendrix coming to terms of what happened with the Prophet and his accomplice the Ghost, as well as processing with all of her emotions from the previous weeks. When a Ted Bundy-esque killer made headlines in the Austin area of Texas, Caitlin knew that it was her time to showcase her skillset at profiling sadistic killers. 

Into the Black Nowhere was unique because the killer was identified and apprehended no more than 100 pages in the book, but there was so much more to explore. One of my complaints about UNSUB was that I didn't fully understand the killer's motivations, and while there was a bit of mystery behind the Ted Bundy-inspired killer, I felt that this storyline was more contained and ended quite tidily. Unsurprisingly, Into the Black Nowhere ended in a cliffhanger that has me anxiously awaiting the third (and final?!) book!

Characters: I liked Into the Black Nowhere because it really delved into Caitlin's mental state and forced her to address some issues she had with her family and loved ones. Gardiner did not hold back and brought Caitlin's suicidal tendencies to head so major trigger warning regarding attempted suicide and talk of suicide. 

I also thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of Caitlin's new team; there was Emmerich, the agent in charge who wanted to give Caitlin a chance to grow, and the experienced Rainey who was no-nonsense and cared for Caitlin's sanity. 

On another note, I was intrigued by the focus that Gardiner put on serial killer groupies. Like Ted Bundy, the killer was handsome, confident, and charismatic which had hundreds of women flocking to his trial and jail cell. It was disturbing to see what lengths these women would go to protect an accused killer and even creepier to think that these type of people exist in real life. 

 Worldbuilding: Much like in UNSUB, Gardiner made much use of Gideon County, Texas. There were food trucks, a plethora of tacos, and an emphasis on cowboy hats. I've never been to any part of Texas, but I liked the use of location. 

Short N Sweet: Into the Black Nowhere was addictive and thrilling, I'd recommend reading it right before book 3 comes out so that you're the victim of a terrible cliffhanger. 


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