In the first novel of J.T. Ellison's Lt. Taylor Jackson and FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin criminal investigative series, there are missing girls and missing hands scattered across the southern United States:
One local girl is found, hand missing, and another girl goes missing right after, Lt. Taylor Jackson and FBI profiler John Baldwin get the call and discover there is another victim of the Southern Strangler. As much as Taylor wants to help Baldwin he is called away to each state that has been affected by the Southern Strangler and Taylor gets the call to help out with a serial rapist called the Rainman. What Taylor and Baldwin are unaware of is the Southern Strangler has made contact with a TV reporter in Nashville Whitney Connolly, who is determined to use the contact to make herself famous but at what cost? As the serial killer spirals out of control and more girls are murdered, there appears to be no end in sight and the only person who may know the truth isn't sharing.
This book was pretty good start to the series and I will be picking up the following book as I did like the story and the characters that Ellison created. However, I do not think that this is the best first serial killer or crime book that I have read. This book did not have as many twists and turns to lead the reader and detective astray as I would have liked. I also would have liked a few more chapters or sections that were from the killers point of view, as I think that by having these chapters the serial killer is more defined therefore more scary.
I liked Taylor and Baldwin together and separate as characters. I enjoyed that Ellison had them work on different cases in this book, but still seeking the others expertise while doing so. I think this separation of the cases is very true to life situations as the FBI is more concerned with national crimes and Taylor is restricted to the city of Nashville. Although Taylor and Baldwin are working on two different cases and helping each other out when they can you never feel lost within the separate stories or confused on who is working on what. I think that Ellison did a good job of weaving the crimes and stories together in such a way that the reader does not get lost within them.
Taylor is a strong female character and she has to be in as she is the head of a homicide unit and is looked upon to make the major decisions for her unit. I really appreciate that Taylor did not feel that she had to do everything herself and was not a know it all. She treated the detectives who she was in charge with, with respect and would seek their advice and knowledge when it was needed. I also think that Ellison did a good job showing what it was like to be a head of a unit and that the Lt. is responsible for more than one case at a time, to me this was a very realistic aspect of this novel.
Baldwin is also an interesting character. He has been with the FBI for a long time and is starting to feel like he is burning out especially with the case his is currently working on. He feels like he has found a place of peace with Taylor but is unsure how to explore it because his job takes he across the USA. Together, Taylor and Baldwin seem like a great partnership whether on a case or living together. I think that Ellison did a great job in creating a balance between the two in their relationship and the interweaving of their separate cases.
I think this was a pretty good start to a a series and I am interested in seeing how Taylor and Baldwin evolve no only in their relationship but within their perspective professions. I look forward to seeing the different stories that Ellison is able to create around Taylor and I hope Baldwin as well.
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