First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Carmen Cady for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
While police procedurals and mysterious thrillers flood the fiction marketplace, Carmen Cady has been able to find a unique angle in this series debut. Jack Calloway is not only a private investigator and criminal profiler, but has a past that sets him apart from many. Few are aware of his great secret, something Calloway hopes will not change in the near future. When a serial killer stalks Seattle, Calloway is brought in to assist with the investigation, only to discover something sinister that floors him. A chilling start to what could be a great series. Recommended to those who enjoy unique takes on the crime thriller.
Jack Calloway has had a great deal of success as a freelance private investigator and criminal profiler, so much so that his name is bandied around many police organizations. His impetus comes from the fact that his family was murdered by a sadistic killer years ago, forcing him to hone his skills to find justice for all. When he is called to assist on a spree of killings in Seattle, Calloway returns to a city that holds many recent memories. Working alongside a forensic tech with whom he has a romantic history is daunting enough, but having to report to a detective who has no love loss for him makes things all the more difficult.
On the surface, the case appears somewhat cut a dry; young women have turned up murdered in Seattle. It would seem there are similarities in their age and the fact they all used a dating app, something that does not leap off the page for anyone. However, Calloway discovers some peculiar clues at the scenes, things that do not add up. Stymied, but not yet ready tho give up, Calloway follows his instincts and tries to make sense of it all.
While he’s trying to come to terms with his colleagues and they past they share, Calloway wrestles with another secret, something far darker and much more troubling. He has a long history—literally—and soon realises that the killer may have been targeting him for more than a few months, baiting him to get involved in the action. It’s soon apparent that Calloway could be a suspect in the killings, based on his connections to them, albeit in a vague manner. He must use this unique approach to his advantage in order to make sense of the victims, the killer, and the direction in which the crime spree will turn, all while trying to clear his name and hold onto the secret that could ruin it all.
Working the crimes without revealing too much about himself, Calloway tries to piece it all together and bring the killer to justice. However, there are delicate aspects that must be handled and clues that cannot be revealed to the general public, for fear that Calloway’s personal life comes to the surface. That would destroy everything, from his credibility through to his lifestyle. There is a killer on the loose, someone who has lured Calloway into this trap and must be stopped, after centuries of evil doing!
Carmen Cady does well to intrigue the reader with the premise of this story, without making things too supernatural. I choose not to reveal too much, permitting the reader to delve deep and see what they think. While the premise—killer must be caught by the protagonist—is traditional in nature, there are aspects to the story that make it a unique and curious read. Cady may be on to something here, if she can keep the momentum.
Jack Calloway is a great protagonist, revealing much about himself throughout the story. While he is a top-notch private investigator, there are personal aspects to him that come to the surface throughout this piece. Both his personal and professional lives come under scrutiny in the novel, with the reader receiving a front row seat to all the action. His secret remains his own, though Calloway will have to face many a demon throughout the story to make sense of what is before him, which only thickens the plot.
Cady offers up a wonderful cross-section of characters in the piece, each working in their own way to advance the plot. There are many subplots that develop, allowing Cady to hone her characters effectively and flavouring the narrative throughout. Calloway’s past and present are on full display here, with many complementing his character in their own manner.
The story, while not entirely unique in its approach, is great as the layers are peeled back. Cady knows how to build up some tension between her characters and uses plot to advance the story. The narrative, working in a number of time periods and through the eyes of numerous characters, proves strong and does not lose the momentum throughout. A mix of chapter lengths proves the perfect tease for the reader, goading them to keep going in order to piece the mystery together. There are many aspects to the story, appealing to a large audience, though their underlying truth about Jack Calloway drives the story along, forcing the reader to wonder just how long his secret will remain his own, and how that could turn the series on its head.
Kudos, Madam Cady, for an intriguing series debut. I will have to keep my eyes open for more of your work in the coming years. Jack Calloway certainly has me curious, as does his backstory!
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons