The most terrifying novel you will read this year...
Just as he's celebrating his last day on the job, FBI agent E L Pender receives a letter from Dorie Bell. Dorie is afraid. Last year she attended a convention for Persons with Specific Phobia Disorder. Since then, a couple of the delegates have died in suspicious circumstances. Carl Polander had acrophobia. Fear of heights. So what would he be doing on the 12th floor of the building the police say he jumped from? Mara Agajanian had haemophobia. Fear of blood. So how could she have cut her own wrists in the bathtub?
Dorie, who suffers from an irrational fear of masks, wants Pender to look into these cases. She suspects there may be a twisted serial killer on the loose. Someone, who quite literally, enjoys scaring his victims to death. Dorie's right. But she has no idea just how close to her the killer is...
Nasaw's follow-up to The Girls He Adored is a polished, tongue-in-cheek thriller in which serial killer Simon Childs preys on people with phobias and kills them by bringing their worst fears to life. The novel opens with Childs on the loose in California, stalking Dorie Bell, who has a fear of masks. Bell has written a letter to the FBI about the recent suspicious deaths of several of her phobic friends (a woman with a fear of blood slit her wrists, a man with a fear of heights jumped out of a window, etc.). Her note alerts Linda Abruzzi, an agent who has just been restricted to desk duty after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Ed Pender, her newly retired boss, to Childs's predilections. Pender arrives on the scene just in time to keep Bell from becoming Childs's latest victim, but the murderer escapes during the melee. Once he evades his pursuers, Childs decides to track down Pender and Abruzzi and teach them a lesson. The rest of the book consists of a series of extended chase sequences as Childs makes his way across the country to FBI headquarters. Nasaw goes a bit over the top in spinning out the flaws and foibles of his serial killer, especially during the climax, when Childs sets a series of traps for the two agents. But the murder scenes are entertaining in a sly, cheeky fashion, and the crackling dialogue between Pender and Abruzzi gives extra life to the chase scenes.