In this white-knuckle thriller for fans of Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter, a brilliant, troubled forensic psychologist finds herself matching wits with a frighteningly talented sociopath.
Dr. Iris Ballard’s glory days are behind her, so when Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and onetime lover, asks for help constructing a psychological profile of an elusive serial killer who murders single mothers and dumps their bodies in the woods, Iris turns him away. She just wants to be left alone with her infomercials, her German Shepherd, and her vodka. That is, until she gets a peek at the case files.
The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.
The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.
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FBI Profiler Gets Second Chance
Jennnifer Harlow has several books under her belt in a variety of genrs...werewolves and vampires for instance, but this book, Beautiful Maids All In A Row, is first in a thriller series featuring Iris Ballard, a former FBI psycholobist with an outstanding reputation as a profiler. Ifisleft the FBI two years ago after being stabbed by a serial killer who came for her after firsr killing her husband. Traumatized by her shcoking loss, she has accepted a college teaching job in Grafton, North Carolina.
She is in terrible shape emotionally and physically, abusing pills, cigarettes and alcohol, close to losing the job she has, when her former partner shows up to plead with her to return to the bureau as a consultant. Luke Hudsdon knows that even on her worst day, Iris has the skills and uncanny insight to nail an elusive kkiller that has now killed four women and left no discernible clues behind.
Iris didn't think she would ever want to return to that life...looking at the absolute worst in humanity, but when she saw the photos of the victims she knew she had to help if she could. She remains broken emotionally, feeling defensive and reacting awkwardly as she meets the FBI team she will be working with. But she does take the assignment seriously and is soon providing insights which move the investigation in the right direction. Before long she is even having run-ins with the big boss, just like the old days.
This book is being published as an E book and will be available Oct. 11 for purchase. I read it early, courtesy of NetGalley. As I analyze what I like or question, I think the hardest thing to accept is the criminal's over the top control of his henchman. Iris's physical strength and stamina also push the believability factor, what with her diminutive stature and weight of 105 lbs., but that is what adds to the excitement, of course. I hope in future books Iris will be a little more calm in tense situations instead of cursing and angry defensiveness. Maybe getting used to being sober will help.
New Series Start!
This was the initial novel in a new series. It was fast paced, violent, complexly plotted and well worth reading. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre! Thanks to Net Galley and Alibi for an ARC for an honest review.