A masterful, heart-palpitating novel of small-town horror and psychological dread from a Bram Stoker nominee.

So, so sorry I didn’t voted this one back in 2021, to be fair I wouldn’t put this in the horror department, more of a thriller but a good creepy one nonetheless.

Aaron Decker’s life changes one December morning when his wife Allison is killed in a shopping mall shooting, the shooter – a troubled teen who earlier that day killed his rich parents as well. A drama that leaves Aaron seeking Allison’s image… They were married for 5 years now, Allison was a reporter in a small American town, writing mostly about disadvantaged youth. Aaron translates Japanese novels into English. They lead a quiet life without children and pets. Until a few days after Allison’s death, Aaron receives her things from work, among which he finds a cash bill from a motel in another town, by his calculations he was in NY when Allison stayed at the motel alone for two nights. Thinking he’s being cheated he goes to see who his wife has been seeing, but the motel workers say she came alone.

That’s how Aaron ends up finding Allison’s files on the murders she’s been secretly investigating, and that’s how he ends up following in her footsteps to all the cities where the victims were killed, all young, blonde girls, according to Allison, murdered by the same man. Allison also had a suspect that Aaron struggles to find along with another reporter who talked to Allison before her death. It’s brilliant this thriller, it’s like a true crime novel except Aaron not being used to true crime has the reaction most of us should have to tragedies and murders that happen. He is horrified by the idea of a contemporary serial killer, as we should be because there certainly still are out there.

Just the idea that Aaron is shocked by what is happening around him makes this novel 100x better and more realistic than any other thriller. Now I understand why the novel was nominated for horror.

Just thinking about how far Aaron went and how many possible killers he talked to along the way to catch the killer who took most of Allison’s life is extraordinary. I loved the small town America characters Aaron encountered and I loved the whole novel. I don’t think I’ve read a book this good in a very long time, years. Definitely 5 stars and if I had to stop recommending anything for a couple of years this book would be the only mention worth recommending.

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