Unsub begins with Caitlin Hendrix fulfilling her destiny, as the daughter of a cop, in a very bad place with very bad people. In a split second, she decides not to shoot. But it has been more than 20 years since The Prophet terrorized Northern California and essentially destroyed her father’s career. There’s more to destiny than staying alive.
From the very first paragraph, Meg Gardiner’s prose and style give will give readers the confidence that they are in for a solid story, well-told. The supple strength with which Gardiner writes prepare her to lay out the subtler parts of her story. Caitlin’s father was a storied cop, until he came up against The Prophet, a serial killer modeled on Zodiac. Consumed by the case, Mack Hendrix let a far-too-young Caitlin see photos of victims, of just what he was up against. Twenty years is not too long for Caitlin to wait. Vengeance has no expiration date.
Gardiner writes a smart, clean novel, quickly putting us in the path of a human monster. To her credit, Gardiner makes it clear that while monster outweighs human in the balance, nonetheless humans are capable of acts that are clearly inhuman. Which is to say that the terror and tension get cranked up pretty high pretty and pretty early in the moments it will take you to finish this novel.
For this reader, a sense of straight-ahead fair-play is essential in a serial killer novel, and Gardiner delivers with complete panache. There’s also the matter of tension management; too much and the reader will not want to read, but to skip ahead and just “find out.” Too little, and you get the same result for a different reason. Suffice it to say, Gardiner has you glued to every page, and the one after.
Even before you finish Unsub, you’ll know that it is the beginning of a series, and here as well, Gardiner shows us just how it should be done. Caitlin Hendrix is a character you care about, prone to put herself in danger, but only for the best reasons, which happen to be those that will keep you in this book and anticipating the next one.
So yes, I did ask Meg Gardiner if these characters were going to be rolled into Criminal Minds, because they’re making something based on this book and its sequel(s) for CBS. I will let listeners hear for themselves her answer, but to my mind any filmed production benefits from a prose beginning, because a book ensures there will be a story [usually]. I think readers and listeners will hear just how smart and fair Gardiner is, and yes, fair is important when you’re talking about someone who creates characters you plan on spending valuable time with. Just follow this link, or listen below to hear Meg Gardiner discuss the finer points of fairness and scaring the bejeebers out of you.