For ten years, the charmingly disheveled veteran FBI Special Agent E.L. Pender has been investigating the apparently random disappearances of a dozen women across the country. The only detail the cases have in common is the strawberry blond color of the victims' hair, and the presence of a mystery man with whom they were last seen.
Then, in Monterey, California, a routine traffic stop erupts into a scene of horrific violence. The local police are stunned by a disemboweled strawberry blond victim and an ingenious killer with multiple alternating personalities. Pender is convinced he has found his man, but before he can prove it, the suspect stages a cunning jailbreak and abducts his court-appointed psychiatrist, Irene Cogan.
In a house on a secluded ridge in Oregon, Irene must navigate through the minefield of her captor's various egos -- male and female, brilliant and nave, murderous and passive -- all of whom are dominated by Max, a seductive killer who views her as both his prisoner and his salvation. Irene knows that to survive she must play along with Max's game of sexual perversion. Only then will she be able to strip back the layers to discover a chilling story of a shattered young boy -- and all the girls he adored.
A sexually charged thriller of extraordinary originality and page-turning suspense, The Girls He Adored moves furiously from the inner recesses of the psyche to its final, startling climax. Jonathan Nasaw brilliantly portrays two equally intense characters -- a deviant killer and the expert who can unlock his darkest secrets -- and introduces one of the most likable sleuths in recent fiction.
The homage to Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs is perhaps a bit too heavy-handed, but readers should get their bloodmoney's worth out of this twisted tale of a serial killer with a taste for strawberry blondes. "The system of identities known collectively as Ulysses Christopher Maxwell Jr." contains: a mnemonics expert, a petulant child, an extremely seductive young man, a demonic killer and a frighteningly smart front man named Max. It was Max who was finally arrested in California's Monterey County, sitting next to the recently disemboweled body of a young woman, during a routine traffic stop. Dr. Irene Cogan, an expert in what is now called DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) because "multiple personality disorder" got a bad name, finds Max a real challengeDand just a bit of a turn-on. For veteran FBI agent E.L. Pender, two years away from mandatory retirement and once voted the worst-dressed agent in the bureau, Max might mean the end of a one-man crusade to convince the world that all those strawberry blondes who mysteriously disappeared over the last 10 years were the victims of a serial killer Pender calls Casey, after the old song "And the Band Played On." When Max uses his Lecter-like skills to break out of jail and kidnap Dr. Cogan, Pender trails them to a horrific farm called Scorned Ridge in Oregon. Thanks largely to Nasaw's sharp writing, familiarity breeds not contempt but interest in how it all comes out.
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This was one of the best serial killer novels I've ever read. I've been hoping for a sequel to this one for years!