Whether they feel watching eyes or hear the sound of quickening footsteps behind them, the potential victims in these unnerving stories sense a predator’s approach, and so can we. As these characters hurry to the relative safety of their homes and rush to lock the doors behind them, readers of these smart and suspenseful books will be turning pages faster and faster in hopes of catching the criminal before it’s too late.

EYES IN THE WOODS
The smartest, and perhaps most sarcastic, private investigator in Atlanta has lost none of her spunk in the third installment of Amanda Kyle Williams’ Keye Street series. In Don’t Talk to Strangers, the worldly Street is a little out of her element. Instead of working from her high-tech office in the city, she’s drawn deep into the woods of rural Whisper, Georgia, to help solve two murders with the same M.O. but a decade between them. The killer keeps young girls captive for months, maybe years, before disposing of their bodies in the same remote location. Street is determined to stop it from happening again, but she finds herself in a precarious position: The locals don’t want her help and make their feelings menacingly clear. With potential enemies all around, our tenacious detective is clearly at risk. The reader feels the pressure, too, and shares the intense need to solve this mystery right alongside the intrepid investigator.

ESCALATING DANGER
A world away from the wilds of Georgia, Detective Inspector Mike Lockyer faces a different kind of killer on the streets of south London. In Clare Donoghue’s debut novel, Never Look Back, the murderer is brazen, practically daring the authorities to discover the women’s bodies he leaves poking out of alleys. Three victims into his warped scheme, the killer’s timetable is accelerating, and Lockyer doesn’t have much time to stop him from striking again. As with the most compelling cases, Lockyer’s quest isn’t merely police work; it’s personal. The victims are young and bear a startling resemblance to his daughter, Megan. Plus, Lockyer’s more than a little attracted to stalking victim Sarah Grainger, who may be next on the killer’s list. By involving the detective so intimately in the details of the case, Donoghue shows how a stalker’s threats infiltrate the lives of his victims on every level. Readers will be just as desperate as Lockyer, Megan and Sarah to see the end of this killer’s spree.

ON-AIR VICTIM
Eyes on You
, the new standalone novel from Kate White, author of the Bailey Wiggins mystery series, is set in the brutally competitive world of modern media. Television news personality and rising star Robin Trainer is the co-anchor of a successful, gossipy news show, so she’s used to the political backstabbing that’s part of every day on set. However, she never expects it to turn deadly. When threatening notes start to appear in her purse and gruesome dolls turn up in her office chair, she begins to realize that the threat is real. But in the house of mirrors that is the media, who can she trust? Trainer’s first-person narration lets us in on every thought and interaction— from her reluctant attraction to her charming co-host to her confrontations with a vicious competitor—leaving us feeling as vulnerable as our haunted heroine.

UNDER HER NOSE
Clever and likable Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has appeared in three previous books by Jane Casey. In her newest adventure, The Stranger You Know, Kerrigan returns to the London police office where she works with her abrasive, yet intriguing, partner, Josh Derwent. On her latest case, Kerrigan faces a serial killer who performs bizarre rituals on his victims—after he kills them. He leaves a scrupulously clean crime scene and no clues. Kerrigan has little to go on, and even less help from Derwent than usual, as he’s been abruptly banned from the case. As Kerrigan creeps closer to secrets from Derwent’s past that parallel the current crime, she can’t stay away from him. But will her presence help exonerate him, or does it put her own life in jeopardy? Casey expertly dangles the solution just out of Kerrigan’s reach, putting readers in the roles of the pursuer and the pursued until the final pages.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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