Where to start with this one. I hadn't read Tawni O' Dell's previous New York Times bestseller Back Roads but was intrigued by the blurb on this and gratefully received a preview copy from NetGalley. The main character here is Dr Sheridan Danny Doyle, a very successful forensic psychologist whose opinion is regularly sought for TV appearances and by the Philadelphia District Attorney in the most disturbing of serial killer cases. He wears expensive, sharp tailored suits and can deal with the worst cases with complete professionalism- he seems to have it all sorted. That is until he's forced to return to his backwards home town to visit his grandfather who's been unwell. He's managed to avoid going back for twelve years because of his horrific childhood and how it still haunts him.
The town itself is plagued by ghosts and small-minded thinking and he's not shocked to find that little has changed except that as soon as he arrives home, people start being murdered. The townsfolk think it's the spirits of a group of Irish mining rebels who were executed there years before but Danny (as he's known back home) is obviously better mentally equipped and rather quickly figures out who the culprit is; someone else has come home too and this particular person is a full on psychopath. Danny works with the chief of police, who's always been like a father to him to try and get evidence on this extremely clever individual but things don't go quite as planned. On that note, the killer in this is one of the better written "baddies" I've come across in a long time. To start with, (it was very briefly) not completely obvious that this was the killer but it was clear we were looking at a sociopath at the very least. And then it was just like a slap to the face- no, no, definitely a psychopath!
The chapters are told from the perspectives of both Danny and the killer plus there's flashback scenes so you get a good look at the storyline from several angles. Added to that, the characters are wonderfully well developed and the storyline, while a bit slow to develop at the start, quickly picks up pace and becomes un-putdownable (it's a word! Kinda). There's lots of interesting little tit-bits about forensic psychology in there which was really captivating. Also, the level of darkness to this book is unreal, it reminded me a bit of True Detective (but much less gory) in that kind of bleak small-town America kind of way and the dialogue is just perfect; it's how you would expect these characters to converse but it's peppered with the odd flash of wit that had me chuckling uncertainly (as in; should I really be laughing at this??). That right there is a serous skill and I will most definitely be looking for more Tawni O' Dell to read.
As Sharon from Behind Green Eyes (fellow book blogger and all round gem of a human being) pointed out in her review of this, it has been compared to the writing style of Gillian Flynn (she of Gone Girl, Sharp Objects and Dark Places fame) and while Sharon thinks that's an unfair comparison, I only half agree with her. I do think the writing styles are completely different but I think the general darkness of the book and the portrayal of some of the female characters is not unlike Flynn's work. That's by no means a bad thing; I'm a big fan of Gillian Flynn but the point is, if you're going to read this expecting more of the same, you could well be disappointed because they are also very different books.
Anyway, that's enough rambling, this is out on August 19th if you're looking for a really good crime thriller.