Deep As The Dead
by Kylie Brant
Book 9 of Mindhunters
First of all, warning for some gruesome murders. But this is par for Kylie Brant anyway, as her Mindhunters series has always leaned more towards the dark and gritty. You don't actually see the murder happen, but the victims' bodies DO get described in a bit of detail.
Secondly, I would love to believe that the reason why I enjoyed this book slightly more so than I did the previous two Mindhunters installments, was because Kylie Brant read my reviews and tweaked the few things I'd mentioned as little quibbles from said previous two installments. One book I mentioned had excellent chemistry between the main couple, but an extremely scattered outline and a chaotic second half; the other book had a well written progression and murder investigation, but the couple held little chemistry.
Deep As The Dead brings the best of both worlds that I've always recalled loving about the Mindhunters series together; and that makes me intensely happy.
Nonetheless, I've yet to be completely disappointed in any of the works I've read by Brant, so really, she's just good at what she does in this genre--telling an exciting romantic suspense, with just the right amount of everything I've always enjoyed in this series.
A serial killer at large has been absent for about three years, but recently makes his reappearance with a few brutal killings within a short period of time. He leaves a calling card--the victims' mouths are sewn together, hiding within the body of a dead dragonfly and second, unique insect within a small glassine bag. The dragonfly represents the serial killer, the other insect hints at the victims' sins.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ethan Manning has been assigned to the newly formed task force to capture this serial killer, dubbed by the media as The Tailor because of his sewing his victims' mouths shut. The Tailor has eluded law enforcement across Canada for years, several investigators and task forces having been unsuccessful at apprehending him; and Ethan has no qualms about asking for whatever resources he can get in order to bring this monster to justice. What he hadn't expected was to see Alexa Hayden again, so many years after the two of them parted under tragic circumstances.
Alexa is a consultant with Raiker Forensics, specializing in forensic entomology, which proves useful in figuring out what the serial killer's obsession with insects could lead to. She's the one who makes the connection between the meaning behind the dragonfly and the second bug, and begins formulating a profile, figuring out what this killer is after, and who the next victim could possibly be. By chance, The Tailor notices Alexa, learns of her specialty, somehow feels with her some sort of kinship. And eventually, she has become his next obsession.
Of course, a romantic suspense is never short on psychotic serial killers who sight in on our main heroine because of some sort of trait she exhibits. I'm not entirely sure that I've actually seen this particular device employed in any of the Kylie Brant Mindhunters books, except maybe two. But this is a device we see in a lot of romantic suspense, nonetheless. I suspect it's a means of making our main heroine "a special someone" in the story, without really hammering in the fact that she's "a special someone."
While I've never been entirely too thrilled about the main heroine being "special," in such a way, I think that this characteristic actually plays to Alexa's benefit. Because, despite what Ethan thinks, I think she kind of knows that she's good at getting people to open up to her and let down their guards; and I think she knows that if she uses the right amount of charm, she could get any witness or interviewee to talk freely and comfortably.
And, of course, it's her being "a special someone" that will get our elusive serial killer to finally break his patterns and screw up enough to get caught... obviously.
Deep As The Dead encompasses one of the devices I love most about crime thrillers--a feeling of police procedural and togetherness on the force, where all of our players work together to find the killer and bring him to justice. It's always intriguing to me, watching our main task force working together in this way, and also kind of bonding over their shared need to stop a monstrous killer. There were amusing little asides and quips among the task force members, and great interactions.
The investigation was interesting enough to keep me hooked. The little insights about the use of the insects was interesting. Now, the whole thing about the killer seeing himself as "doing God's work," is probably an overused trope in crime thrillers, as it's a pretty common one employed. Of course, it's often commonly used if only because it credible.
The romance between Alexa and Ethan was mature and sweet, tinged with the underlying pain of their history. To be honest, there were all sorts of signs that an angsty love story was probably going to play out, but I'm actually kind of happy that the two were able to compartmentalize, set aside their feelings about the past, and work with each other. Even when a few tidbits about their history surfaced, it didn't stop them from being professional; it didn't keep them from being mature about their situation. It didn't keep the two of them from caring about each other as colleagues, or on a personal level.
It was a subtle, yet wonderfully handled second-chance romance; and the way it played out made me think that their parting really wasn't as angry as they had made it out to be, even if the circumstances were still heartbreaking.
Deep As The Dead is an excellently enjoyable new installment to the Mindhunters series. And even while there are rather noticeable flaws in editing--typos, missing pronouns, missing words here and there, missing verbs--I found myself just moving on and disregarding those errors. It's a little jarring at times, truth be told, to see an editing error, because I find myself backtracking at points to try to figure out what the sentence was trying to convey. But it wasn't bad enough to make me truly upset with the book or it's unpolished publication.
This was a good romantic suspense. And I look forward to Kylie Brant's next installation... or, in fact, her next book release, which I suspect isn't related to the Mindhunters series.
This book could also count for:
- Murder Most Foul
- Serial Killer
- Terrifying Women