Tag Archives: Serial killers

Lights, Camera, Novel: James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls.

Kiss the Girls Movie PosterJames Patterson’s Alex Cross series was perfectly timed for moviegoers of the nineties who were primed for psychological thrillers after a number of popular hits. Reviewers drew comparisons between Kiss the Girls and other releases like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. However, the comparisons between the films were not entirely favorable. Kiss the Girls starred Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, whose career was just beginning to accelerate.

The novel follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross as he learns that his niece Naomi, a law student at Duke, was kidnapped by a lascivious serial killer who masquerades under the pseudonym, Casanova. Cross abandons DC for Durham. His emotions are high and he is focused on finding Naomi before it’s too late. Meanwhile, medical intern Kate McTiernan is Casanova’s latest victim, but not for long. McTiernan manages to escape, which makes her the anomalous sole survivor. She and Cross team up to uncover Casanova’s true identity and rescue the other victims still languishing in Casanova’s “harem.”

Kiss the Girls is Patterson’s only novel that features a North Carolina setting. But Patterson layered plenty of authenticating detail in his book to evoke the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Filming locations for the movie adaptation were largely limited to Durham, and of course, Los Angeles. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not to approve the film’s request to use the university’s campus during shooting.

In the past, the University has a mixed record of accepting some requests to film on campus, but rejecting others. According to a Daily Tarheel article from 2001, UNC’s major ruling factor is maintaining the University’s image. The University also considers how the project might provide opportunities or disruptions to campus life. Ultimately, the University decided against Kiss the Girls due to its graphic content. Chapel Hill officials did not consent to give the producers permission to shut down Franklin Street for filming.

Although Kiss the Girls is second in the Cross series it was adapted first. Along Came a Spider, the first novel in the series, was a follow-up in 2001. While Kiss the Girls performed well at the box office, critics panned the film for pacing issues and a lack of uniqueness. Both Freeman and Judd were commended for their performances however. In 2012, Tyler Perry starred in an Alex Cross reboot. There are plans for a sequel reportedly.

The clip below, from Movie Clips, shows a scene following Kate’s escape where she delivers a statement to the press:

The movie version is a bit more solemn than the novel. In the book, Kate’s introductory remarks are self-deprecating and elicit a few smiles. More or less, the monologues match up.  But both versions represent Kate as a strong and intelligent character, in spite of her ordeal.

Patterson’s novel is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. There are copies at Davis Library and Wilson Library. The film adaptation is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog as well. Copies can be found at the Media Resources Center in the Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library. The original blog post for the novel is here.

Sources consulted here: The Baltimore Sun, The Daily Tarheel (two different articles), Film Journal InternationalIMDb, Movie Clips, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Roger Ebert, The Washington Post (two different reviews), Wikipedia

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Durham, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Ernest Beasley. Cape Fear Murders. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.

capefearThe body count gets high in this novel of adultery, revenge, and abuse of power set in Lee County, North Carolina.  First one high school girl is raped and murdered, then another, and another, and another. When the father of the fourth victim becomes impatient with the pace of the investigation, he contacts retired United States Marshall, Kenneth Sadler.  Sadler, a widower, is happy for the work and grateful for an excuse to temporarily relocate away from the many widows in nearby Moore County who view him as a desirable catch.

Sadler does not get off on the right foot with Lee County Sheriff Joe Dorman.  While it’s natural that the local authorities do not welcome a private investigator from the outside, Sadler learns that Sheriff Dorman may have particular reasons for trying to keep a tight rein on this case.  Other discoveries raise questions about the behaviors and intentions of both high school students and the adults in their lives.  Whose behavior is more foolish? More dangerous?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Beasley, Ernest, Coastal Plain, Lee, Moore, Mystery, New Hanover

Joseph L. S. Terrell. Not Our Kind of Killing. Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2013.

not our kindCrime writer Harrison Weaver made a frustrating trip to the North Carolina mountains in April.  A young woman had been murdered and left hogtied in her own car.  Harrison’s editor asked him to head up to the mountains to get the story but when Harrison found out that the crime was poorly investigated and the woman’s body cremated without an autopsy, there was not much he could do.  This was one crime that would remain unsolved.  Now it’s May and Harrison is thinking about other things, like his relationship with Elly Pederson. Elly is a widow who works for the county and through her Harrison has gotten to know many locals. After two years on the Outer Banks, he is starting to feel like he might fit in.

But Harrison does not fit in with everyone–not all the county deputies appreciate his style or the way he pokes his nose into police business, and District Attorney Rick Schweikert is especially antagonistic toward him.  So when Harrison finds a young woman’s body near a local kayaking spot, he has some explaining to do.  Not everyone wants to hear about how much this murder resembles the earlier murder in the mountains. But Harrison’s friend SBI agent Thomas Twiddy is open to the connection. As they investigate the local crime, Harrison remembers what the mountain people said about that murder being “not our kind of killing.”  Following this thought leads him to a pair of serial killers.

This is the third Harrison Weaver mystery. The series begins with Tide of Darkness.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Mountains, Mystery, Terrell, Joseph L. S.

Robin Weaver. Blue Ridge Fear. Adams Basin, NY: Wild Rose Press, 2012.

Sienna Saunders forfeited her condo in Atlanta to a relocate to a ramshackle cabin in the woods with her self-absorbed cousin, Bethany Larkin. As one character puts it, Bethany is something of a “Blue Ridge Barbie,” always busy twisting two or three different guys around her pinky.  Moving wasn’t so much a choice as the only option left for Sienna though. After her relationship with her boss fizzled out and she lost her graphic design job, Sienna decided to start up her own company. Unfortunately for Sienna, her former boss was not pleased by her new venture or by the fact that Sienna managed to steal a few clients away. So he slapped Sienna with a lawsuit.

Broke, jobless, and soon to be homeless, when Sienna heard about her inheritance from her uncle, a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, she jumped at the opportunity. Even though that opportunity means living with Bethany for a year. According to the terms of the will, Bethany and Sienna must live together in the cabin for a full year. If either one moves then neither can claim their inheritance. Sienna and Bethany have never gotten along, and Sienna speculates that the pairing is one last attempt from her uncle to force them to bond. She doesn’t hold out much hope for the relationship. But she does need a place to stay.

On an ill-advised hiking trip, Bethany drops her purse into a river. Sienna nimbly climbs over the slippery river rocks to retrieve the bag. Before she reaches dry land, Bethany’s scream (an animal frightened her) surprises Sienna, and she slips and twists her ankle. While Bethany sets out for help, Sienna waits alone in the woods, with dripping wet clothes and a pounding ankle. A mysterious stranger appears and helps Sienna with her injury. She doesn’t trust him, yet she doesn’t have any alternatives with a useless ankle. He warns Sienna about a killer on the loose and the three women who have been found murdered around the area in the last three months. When Bethany returns with two park rangers, named Lars and Anton, the mysterious stranger disappears.

Once she is safely returned to the cabin, Sienna feels befuddled. Part of her longs to bump into the mysterious stranger again. She scolds herself for feeling so entranced by a complete stranger. After all, he might just be the killer. Soon after her accident however, he materializes. Sienna learns that the stranger’s name is Carson Addison, but that is just about the only information she can seem to weasel out of him. He advises her to return to Atlanta for her safety. Apparently, the killer targets blonde, blue-eyed women – women exactly like Sienna. Sienna wonders if Carson is toying with her, if she can trust him, and, most importantly whether she should leave now, before she becomes victim number four.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller, Weaver, Robin

Douglas Quinn. Swan’s Landing. Elizabeth City, N.C. : White Heron Press, 2012.

In this the third novel in the Webb Sawyer mystery series, Webb’s son Preston has moved from the Outer Banks to New Zealand, but Preston’s ex-girlfriend, Sunshine Bledsoe, still keeps in touch with Webb.  Sunshine is aptly named–she’s a pretty, cheerful young woman whose sunny nature belies her difficult family life.  When Sunshine’s parents divorced, her dad moved to Richmond, but her mother, a recovering drug addict, remained in the area.  Isabeau and Sunshine’s relationship is a reverse of the traditional mother-daughter one: it is Sunshine who checks in on Isabeau, a waitress with a tenuous hold on financial and emotional stability.

As this novel opens, Sunshine is convinced that her mother is in trouble.  Isabeau’s employer, restaurant owner Amy Overton, has a note from Isabeau saying that  she’s taking a few weeks off for a vacation, but Sunshine doesn’t think her mom had the money for a trip.  Initially, Webb is not inclined to take Isabeau’s disappearance very seriously. Webb is more interested in working on his off-again, on-again relationship with pub owner Nan Ftorek, which is now back on.  Still, Sunshine is someone he is fond of and when he learns that another of Ms. Overton’s employees is also missing, his investigation kicks into high gear.  Webb follows a twisted trail that involves a shady minister, a local developer with a past, and a sadistic cop.  The body count gets high before Webb and the local sheriff bring the bad guys and their enablers to justice.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Quinn, Douglas

Kay Hooper. Haven. New York: Berkley Books, 2012.

Jessie Rayburn is having nightmares. Which is even worse than one might think, because as a psychic, all of Jessie’s experiences with human emotion are amplified. She’s safely ensconced in Haven, the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit headquarters in New Mexico, but visions of young women being tortured in Baron Hollow, North Carolina are leaping out at her as clear as if she were really there. Unsurprising, perhaps, since Baron Hollow is her hometown, but Jessie knows something is wrong. Disguising her intent by arranging for a vacation home, Jessie drives across the country to the town, and sister, she ran away from fifteen years ago.

Emma Rayburn is surprised when Jessie announces her visit. They never had much in common, especially since Jessie, the elder, was psychic. Two sisters with wildly different personalities under one roof is hard enough, but when one sister can read the other’s thoughts? That’s a recipe for disaster. Since Jessie left, Emma has turned their palatial ancestral home into a popular bed and breakfast, and has been running it with a steady hand. But a riding accident a few weeks ago has disturbed Emma’s peace– she’s been having horrible nightmares about young women being tortured, and has no way to explain their existence. Jessie is the psychic one, so these dreams can’t mean anything…can they?

The first rule all psychics know is that coincidences are rare. While the sisters’ relationship may be fraught with tension, a black cloud rests on Baron Hollow, and that supersedes all other concerns. Young, female hikers have been mysteriously disappearing for years, and somehow no one has noticed. Could it be that the killer is not only very careful but also skilled in more subtle modes of mental deception? Could it be that the killer is also a psychic? Emma and Jessie, along with several other Haven operatives,  work to solve the case before anyone else goes missing, but this killer is smart, deadly, and tangled in their own personal histories.

Kay Hooper provides a thrilling continuation in this, her thirteenth novel in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. Divided into sub-trilogies featuring different psychics on the team, each novel can be enjoyed independently, as a part of its own trilogy, or as a part of the overall series. Haven is a fast-paced, exciting addition this repertoire.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Hooper, Kay, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Gregory Funaro. The Impaler. New York: Pinnacle Books, 2011.

FBI Special Agent Sam Markham barely has a day to adjust to his new home in Quantico, Virginia before his boss comes calling. Another body has been found in Raleigh, North Carolina: bound, gagged and horribly impaled, just like the first two. Even though Sam is still recovering from an exhausting case in Tampa as well as dealing with the impending execution of his wife’s murderer, he doesn’t hesitate. He goes to Raleigh to hunt down the killer the press is calling the Impaler. But finding the killer is easier said than done– the Impaler has his own strange codes, symbols, and portents that lead Agent Markham and the rest of the FBI on a twisted journey through Babylonian mythology, the Iraq War, and medieval Romania.

Edmund Lambert works by day as an assistant in the theater at local Harriot College, but by night, he is the General. Meticulous in his plans, the General is laying the way for the Prince to return to Earth…but in order to do that, the General must kill. Within the ancestral Lambert family farmhouse, he reeducates his victims, and topping their headless corpses with the taxidermied head of a lion, uses them as a sacred door through which to communicate with his Prince. The hour of the Prince’s coming is getting closer, andLambert must ensure that all is in perfect readiness.

As the body count increases almost daily, Agent Markham employs all of his skills to find this monster before it’s too late. But will his work be enough? A grisly psychological thriller, this prequel to The Sculptor leaves the reader pondering the thin line between cop and killer.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Funaro, Gregory, Horror, Piedmont, Wake

Susan Whitfield. Sin Creek. London, TX: L&L Dreamspell, 2011.

When she’s called to investigate a murder on the UNC-Wilmington campus, Logan Hunter certainly doesn’t look the part of a tough and capable SBI Agent. Clad in high heels and a silk dress, she comes straight from her own bridal shower. The scene she finds couldn’t be more different than the genteel high tea honoring her impending marriage. Maeve Smoltz wasn’t only killed, she was torn apart. Perhaps more troubling is the evidence of heavy sexual abuse on her body, especially for a brand-new college freshman. Agent Hunter is determined to find some answers, but the ones she uncovers point to far more terrible deeds and only raise more questions. Married quickly in the middle of the investigation, she and her new husband, handsome fellow Agent Chase Reilly, have even more to lose as they work together to bring down the perpetrators of this and other heinous acts. Will their new marriage survive? Will they?

Inspired to write this next installment in the Logan Hunter Mystery Series as a way to raise awareness of the effect the porn industry has on impressionable, often monetarily needy young women trying to make their way through college, Susan Whitfield has written a gripping and sad novel that nonetheless has a hopeful ending. Due to the explicit nature of some material, this book is recommended for mature readers only.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Whitfield, Susan

Dixie Land. Deadly Beauty. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2010.

Diana thought her troubles were over when Ashley Marsh was sent to a mental hospital at the end of Deadly Company.  Free from Ashley’s threats, Diana is able to build a happy life in Greensboro, North Carolina with her new husband, Lance Cassidy, and his two daughters. The girls, Kelli and Kasey, are lively youngsters.  Kelli, a kindergarten student, becomes instant pals with the teaching assistant in her classroom, Miss Marisa.

Marisa is a warm-hearted but insecure young woman.  She is under the spell of her friend Sara, but Sara has become Marisa’s friend so that she can get close to the girls and take Lance away from Diana.  Yes, Sara is Ashley, and she will not stop until she eliminates her rival and claims Lance as her own.  Ashley manipulates Marisa, Lance, the girls, and even Diana.  Diana and Nora, Lance’s boss, sense that something is off about “Sara”, but it takes evidence from Marisa to bring their fears into focus.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Guilford, Land, Dixie, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Lawrence Thackston. The Devil’s Courthouse. Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2010.

“I’m telling ya, there’s something screwy going on in our little corner of the wild kingdom.”

These words, from forest ranger Lem Astin, are a light-hearted understatement.  In the spring of 1974 several grizzly murders occur in Great Smoky Mountains.  The bodies are so horribly mutilated that police and locals initially believe that bears are responsible for the attacks.  As the body count rises, authorities take ever more extreme measures–killing bears within thirty miles of camp sites, closing the national park, shutting down a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and mishandling an attack on Cherokee lands.

Park rangers Nic Turner and Cole Whitman are skeptical of the bear theory.  So too are some older members of the Cherokee community.  Cherokee elders know the story of Tsul-kalu, a ferocious giant who lives in a cave on top of the Devil’s Courthouse, a rock formation in Transylvania County.  Cole’s skepticism is based on something more personal–a family tragedy and the torment he carries within himself.  It will be locals, not outside authorities, who are able to stop the killings.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Jackson, Mitchell, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller, Swain, Thackston, Lawrence, Transylvania