A small town, several missing people and a serial killer on the loose

Every Pretty Thing byChris Mooney is part of a series featuring as its main character Darby McCormick. Darby is a serial killer expert and works with a number of law enforcement agencies in America. She’s a difficult woman, or at least that’s how many people perceive her, and she never backs down from a fight or gives way on anything.

One of Darby’s few friends is an FBI agent, Jackson Cooper. He asks her to come to a small town in Montana where he is investigating a message from a woman who was nearly murdered by a serial killer when a child and who thinks that she has now identified him living in the local community. On arrival Darby finds that Cooper has disappeared, as has the woman, and that the local FBI and other police are not friendly.

This novel is at the gritty end of crime fiction. In each book of the series the author tries to create a different but gory scenario for the serial killer. Books like this tend to emphasise the suffering of people and occasionally I find that a little too much to handle. In this book, however, the story relies on tension to keep the reader engaged until near the end when there are murders and other atrocities. Darby has to work out who she can trust, to keep out of the hands of those who wish to arrest her and retrace Cooper’s steps. During this process she realises that Cooper’s friendship may actually be more than that to her.

This is a quick and easy read. The tension build up is good and the atmosphere is claustrophobic and threatening. As Darby begins to unravel what has happened each page seems to bring a new surprise. What happens then, however, is that the mystery is unravelled, we find out who has done what to whom and the enormity of the crime is revealed very quickly. The book stops without a real explanation of everything that has happened and when you stop to think about it you realise that you haven’t been given much detail. I understand why the author wants to stop where they do but I really would have liked to know more.

If you like books at the gory end of crime writing then this series is as good as any other. I do have questions about exactly what skills it is reasonable for someone to have and also about whether the law enforcement agencies in America are really so horrible to each other. I also suspect that the number of serial killers in this type of fiction outnumbers those in the real world – at least I hope that it does.

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