The basics: When the Hitichi County sheriff calls Atlanta FBI profiler turned private investigator Keye Street about a possible serial killer, she travels to the lakeside, rural Georgia town to try to solve the murders of two thirteen-year-old girls killed ten years apart and discovered in the same grave in a wooded area.
My thoughts: The further along writers get in series, the harder it can be to keep things fresh. In this third installment of the Keye Street series, the first thirty pages are so are a glimpse into Keye's personal and professional life. The reader is treated to her current living situation, a bond jumping case, and office hijinks. When the action shifts to the mystery whose focus carries this novel, I was hooked. The premise is fascinating: a serial killer targeting thirteen-year-old girls ten years apart. As the details of the case unfold, I marveled at its complexity and the spot-on pacing. Williams strikes the perfect balance between the comforts of the previous books and characters and moving the storylines along in a satisfying way. These murders definitely dominate this novel, but the case is interesting and complicated enough that to have it otherwise would be a disservice. This series continues to fly under the radar, but it's among my favorite contemporary mystery series, and I cannot wait until the fourth one is out.
The verdict: Don't Talk to Strangers is a riveting procedural and a worthy entry in this excellent series. The case is the focus, and its conclusion is satisfying, but the epilogue delivers a jaw-dropping cliffhanger in Keye's personal life that left me cursing the time until the fourth installment.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Don't Talk to Strangers from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)
A note on series order: While events from the first two books in this series are mentioned, they aren't spoiled. Readers who haven't read The Stranger You Seek or Stranger in the Room could still enjoy Don't Talk to Strangers and read the earlier novels later. Although I'm a series order purist, Williams balances character development and past events well. The biggest spoilers are in Keye's personal life, and those are relatively minor.
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