Hardcover, 368 pages
Forensic Instincts Series book 3
It begins with a chilling phone call to Casey Woods. And ends with another girl dead.
College-age girls with long red hair. Brutally murdered, they’re posed like victims in a film noir. Each crime scene is eerily similar to the twisted fantasy of a serial offender now serving thirty years to life—a criminal brought to justice with the help of Forensic Instincts.
Call. Kill. Repeat. But the similarities are more than one psychopath’s desire to outdo another. As more red-haired victims are added to the body count, it becomes clear that each one has been chosen because of a unique connection to Casey—a connection that grows closer and closer to her.
Now the Forensic Instincts team must race to uncover the identity of a serial killer before his ever-tightening circle of death closes in on Casey as the ultimate target. As the stalker methodically moves in on his prey, his actions make one thing clear: he knows everything about Casey. And Casey realizes that this psychopath won’t stop until he makes sure she’s dead.
In The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane the Forensic Instincts team is hired by a dying father to find out what happened to his college aged daughter, Jan Olson, fifteen years ago. It's a police cold case that was never solved. While it appears the team only has a scant police file of information to go on, team leader, Casey, who was in college at the time, had a friend, Holly, who was brutally raped and murdered. It appears that the cases are linked and the team is really looking for a serial killer. While the team starts to investigate Jan's disappearance, it suddenly becomes clear that the killer, or an apprentice, is back and killing young women with red hair - a description that fits Casey. Things become even more stressful when the current serial killer calls Casey after each brutal murder and lets her know that she will be the final victim. And even more chilling is the question how does serial killer Glen Fisher, who the team helped put behind bars, tie into these recent killer's actions?
Each member of the Forensic Instincts team brings a special set of skills and abilities that make them uniquely extraordinary to work together with other team members. Casey is the behaviorist, with a "sharp mind and keen instincts about people, their body language, their responses and reactions." Marc is her right hand who is "brilliant at everything from his mental to his psychological to his physical capabilities." Ryan is "both a strategic and technical genius." Claire is a gifted intuitive, a psychic, who prefers to be called a claircognizant. Patrick is a lifelong trained investigator. Finally Hero is a retired dog from the FBI Canine Unit. Hutch, though not a member of the team, is an FBI profiler who has close ties to Casey.
While the team methodically works the cold case they were hired to solve, the new cases push themselves to the forefront and have the team working with other law enforcement agencies in an effort to unite their strengths to solve the cases. In The Stranger You Know Claire's claircognazant abilities are strongly featured and play a major role. This makes it imperative for you to believe in her abilities in order to appreciate her role in the teams efforts. Some of the plot is predictable, but that is often the case with crime/mystery novels so it was noted but didn't deter my enjoyment. There is a palatable tension as the team tries to solve the murders. The team's actions, running headlong on an impetuous beat-the-clock-or-else rush of adrenaline, kept me reading the book straight through to the end.
However, after accepting and acknowledging the teams qualifications, there were a few moments in the narrative where I felt like saying, "Oh really?" because their established competence and expertise didn't quite line up with their actions. (I'd give examples but I don't want to spoil the plot.) I'm also not completely able to accept Claire's psychic abilities to the extent that they played in the plot. The Stranger You Know is the third book in the Forensic Instincts series and, while it works as a stand-alone novel, it would be nice to have more information on the team members and their previous two cases. (I'm going to have to read the first two books on my wish list.)
Andrea Kane’s psychological thriller The Girl Who Disappeared Twice became an instant New York Times bestseller, the latest in a long line of smash hits. With her acclaimed signature style of developing unforgettable characters and weaving them into carefully researched story lines, Kane has created Forensic Instincts, an eclectic team of maverick investigators. Recruited because of their special talents and dynamic personalities, the high-energy members thrive on blatantly disregarding authority. Armed with skills and talents honed by years in the FBI and Special Forces and with training in behavioral and forensic psychology, this unstoppable team solves seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement.
With a worldwide following and novels published in more than twenty languages, Kane is also the author of numerous romantic thrillers and historical romances. She lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is busily crafting a new challenge for Forensic Instincts.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review purposes.