I have a huge soft spot for characters who are a little different. In a sea of stereotypes it’s the ones that don’t fit in who are more interesting. In this gripping story we’re introduced to Rory Moore, an MC who stands out from the crowd for several reasons.
Rory is a forensic reconstructionist. Occasionally she works on cold cases for the Chicago PD under the supervision of Det. Ron Davidson. Her specialty is recreating a crime scene in such minute detail that often new information is revealed. It’s a gift & her uncanny abilities are a direct result of her being somewhere on the autism spectrum.
Ron has just dropped another case in her lap when Rory gets the news her father has died. It’s a terrible blow made more difficult when she takes on the job of closing his law practice. She discovers he’s been representing an infamous convicted killer since 1979. That was the year 5 women went missing courtesy of a man nicknamed “The Thief”. Despite a massive search, police were only able to nail him for one. Her name was Angela Mitchell & she was credited with identifying him. After numerous applications made by Rory’s father, it looks like he’s finally been granted parole & the job of guiding him through the process falls to Rory.
There are dual time lines & in alternate chapters we follow Angela in 1979. She, too, is a little different. Intelligent but socially awkward, Angela deals with the daily challenge of appearing “normal”. With the help of a supportive husband, she just about manages to keep a lid on the personal tics that can take over her life. That summer, everyone is talking about “The Thief”. She is soon obsessed with following the investigation & begins to see patterns others miss. Eventually, she’s sure she knows who the killer is. Then Angela becomes missing woman #6.
That’s it from me about the plot. The less you know going in, the better & I don’t want to deprive you of one “Holy Crap!” moment. Just get used to saying it because you will. A lot. Given the subject matter, much of the prose is surprisingly low key. You have a chance to get to know Rory & Angela before events begin to spin out of control in both time lines. In terms of the big picture, it’s like little puzzle pieces are littered throughout the story. Some I picked up, others I completely missed. The overall plot is intricate & as that picture emerges, it becomes a tense & compulsive read. I should mention we also get chapters narrated by the killer, a man who had me praying to the Gods of Karma that he’d get what he so richly deserved.
The author does a good job of portraying how times have changed (somewhat) for people living with degrees of autism. Rory is accepted by those she allows in her life & appreciated for her abilities. Angela has to deal with patronizing smiles & labels such as “slow” or “retarded”. It’s not overplayed, just presented as a fact of life for both women.
I’ve heard other readers say they were disappointed by the finale but I thought it was perfect & very much in keeping with the characters involved. The author knows how to spin a story that keeps you reading & has created a compelling MC. If there’s a Rory 2.0 in the works, sign me up.