Tag Archives: Serial killers

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.

UPDATE NOV. 17, 2015: Susan Whitfield’s books are now published by Studebaker Press. The covers of her books have changed since this blog post was originally published.

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

Rose Senehi. The Wind in the Woods. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2010.

Jack “Tiger” Morrison is an honorable man.  He has balanced the competing demands of family and his strong environmental creed. Together, he and his wife, Susan, created a family and started a successful camp for children in North Carolina’s Green River Valley.  Susan has been dead for some time, the victim of a drunk driver, but his daughter Sammy helps him run the camp.

Tiger’s love of the camp and love of nature is as strong as ever, but lately he can’t help but notice that the property around the camp is being bought by developers. How can he hold on to the camp–should he even try? What does Sammy want?  Tiger has a feeling that this will come to a head soon, but he is unprepared for the other developments of this eventful summer when a serial killer is stalking women in the mountains.  Senehi mixes difficult and horrifying elements–the murders and the threats to Tiger’s way of life–with warm elements such as a young camper’s growth and a pair of romances.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Henderson, Mountains, Senehi, Rose, Suspense/Thriller

Wyatt Harvey. Blood Rains: A Mick Priest Novel. New York: Eloquent Books, 2009.

Mikhael (Mick) Priest has a fabulous spread in Durham County–a large chateau on ten acres, with room for horses.  Good work for a private detective turned novelist.  Mick is proud of what he has achieved through hard work, patience, and religious faith.  It could be an idyllic life, but Mick, like Hamlet, has bad dreams.  As the novel opens, Mick has a dream of a former friend who has been brutally murdered.  Shortly after waking, another of Mick’s old friends, a police detective in Wilmington, calls.  Yes, Amanda Kenan, the woman in the dream, has been murdered.  The detective asks Mick to come to Wilmington to help with the investigation.

Wilmington is full of traps for Mick–old girlfriends, former colleagues, old enemies, a reporter looking for a big story.  And there might be a very big story.  Amanda is just the latest well-to-do local woman to have been murdered on a rainy night.  It appears that a serial killer is picking off women from some of Wilmington’s oldest, best families, women who are connected through a group called the Violettes.  But there is also evidence that the killer may have been inspired by London’s infamous Jack the Ripper.  Are these murders tied to the past, or is the motive for the crimes something quite ordinary? As Amanda continues to appear to Mick in dreams, Mick struggles to maintain his equilibrium and find the killer.

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


Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Harvey, Wyatt, Mystery, New Hanover, Suspense/Thriller

Bryan Gilmer. Felonious Jazz. United States: Laurel Bluff Books, 2009.

Leonard Noblac’s career as a musician peaked in the early 1980s, but he hoped that his music would again be appreciated if he just kept at it.  Leaving New York City was not the best career move, but when his wife wanted to relocate to Raleigh he came with her.  Once the marriage broke up, Leonard became unhinged.  As this novel opens, Leonard is robbing a house in a tony Raleigh suburb, starting on a string of crimes that Leonard thinks of as “a perfect jazz albums of burglaries.”  To Leonard, the McMansions of Rocky Falls represent all that is wrong with America in the 21st century–sprawl, over-consumption, soulless materialism.  Jeff Davis Swaine isn’t crazy about the Rocky Falls lifestyle, but he knows who pays his bills–the clients of the Raleigh law firm that has him on staff as their chief investigator.  Once Swaine is called to the scene of that first robbery (called because the homeowners would prefer that the case be handled privately), he is on the trail.  Noblac knows that Swaine and the police have a line on him, but he’s a performer who has always craved the spotlight.  Soon bodies–of people and pets–start to pile up.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Gilmer, Bryan, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Tom Wicker. The Judgment. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1961.

Beware the handsome stranger.  On a winter night a good looking young man shows up in a small North Carolina town.  He has a winning manner, but when bad things begin to happen in the town, some come to suspect he has brought evil with him. The author takes readers into the mind of a man warped by his performances in a huckster’s revival shows. It’s a hellish place.

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

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1961, Coastal Plain, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller, Wicker, Tom

Michael Malone. First Lady. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2001.

When a pair of teenagers found the body of a young woman in the woods on the north side of the Piedmont town of Hillston, there was a tag was affixed to her foot. The tag was addressed to Lt. Justin Saville and asked him to deliver the body to his friend, Chief of Police Cuddy Magnum. It is now several months later and the two policemen have not only failed to find the killer–nicknamed the Guess Who killer by the media–but they have also failed to determine the identity of the woman. Justin and Cuddy face media and community pressure to solve the case, but other complications arise, including the appearance a famous Irish rock star in town, the interference of crooked politicians, and several other murders. This is the third book in the Justin and Cuddy series of mysteries.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Malone, Michael, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont