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In the depths of winter, a killer lurks
December 16, 2015
By T.J. Brearton
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date: November 27, 2015
A gripping new detective mystery from best-selling crime writer T.J. Brearton
Who is murdering female college students and can they be stopped?
The only link between the victims is their participation in an unusual psychology experiment. Leading the investigation is Detective Dana Gates. She has a past no one talks about and a husband and daughters she hardly ever sees. She's a dedicated, by-the-book investigator. And now a serial killer is ripping through the local college campus, and everything she knows is going to change.
Robert Hamill, her police partner, is a wild card. Unmarried, no kids, Hamill is Dana's polar opposite. But as the case progresses their differing methods threaten to tear them apart. Hamill breaks with procedure to uncover a list naming potential victims, but the two detectives must work together to stop any more girls from turning up dead.
Suspects range from a college professor to an award-wining author, a handyman pot dealer to a student seemingly possessing strange mental gifts, and yet the real culprit could be right under their noses.
In the final showdown of this heart-stopping detective thriller, Dana is left with nothing but her instinct, her will to live - and maybe a special gift of her own.
Dark Kills is a psychological thriller that leaves the reader shivering. As the end neared I felt that I was teetering on a precipice, halfway convinced by the manipulation of the sociopathic killer.
Guilt plays a major role in Dark Kills - fear of being observed in a negative light, fear of recrimination, fear of judgement. Notably every character except the killer is haunted by guilt and fear. This makes investigation into the deaths of the young women difficult, obscuring key facts.
There is some irony in that the victims all took part in a study whose true purpose was to measure performance anxiety. Knowing you are under observation and being under pressure to perform is part and parcel to every detectives existence. As the number of deaths mount, Detective Dana Gates and her partner Robert Hamill are pressured to find the killer despite few leads. With the FBI and the State Attorney looking over their shoulder, it's more important than ever to run a thorough, by the book investigation rather than encourage her partner's maverick ways. The situation becomes more difficult with the discovery of a body in the lake where Dana's brother drowned many years previously.
Brearton does a good job of ratcheting up the tension, throwing everything into question. As the investigation progresses, Dana has a harder and harder job sorting through the lies and half truths. The climax comes as a surprise.
If you like dark, gritty politics procedurals with a strong psychological bent, Dark Kills is an excellent choice.
I received a copy of Dark Kills from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.