Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

In Amanda Kyle Williams’ The Stranger You Seek, a brutal serial killer plays a twisted and dangerous game with the Atlanta Police Department. Keye Street, a former FBI violent crimes analyst turned private investigator is asked to push her personal demons aside to consult on the investigation.

Keye Street is a mess. Her personal and professional lives have fallen apart due to alcoholism fueled by the emotional toll of reconstructing violent crimes. As she picks up the pieces of her lost career and marriage, she embarks on a private investigation career that keeps her close enough to the job she lost, but far enough from the stress to keep her sober. This plan for normalcy works until her long time friend, Lt. Aaron Rauser, pulls her into consulting on a series of murders that grow more and more gruesome with each body.

Throughout the novel, Williams creates a violent and sadistic atmosphere that keeps the reader on edge and also establishes a tough, yet vulnerable detective to chase the clues. The murderer, coined Wishbone by the Atlanta media, tortures and mutilates the victims, leaving them in staged positions throughout the city. Wishbone takes notice as Keye and Rauser try to make sense of the crime scenes and begins addressing the detectives personally through letters leaked to the media. As the frustration of following dead end clues mounts, Wishbone begins drawing Keye’s personal life into the deadly game.

Throughout the novel, Williams peppers the plot with secondary story lines. As a private investigator Keye serves subpoenas, acts as a bounty hunter, and investigates litigants for various legal teams throughout the city. Keye is also closely connected to her family. While at points these interludes into her daily and personal life are vital to Keye’s search for Wishbone, many of the side stories derail the suspense in favor for humor. With that said, Williams plans to create a series out of Keye Street’s character and some of the back-story may have been better had it been spread out more evenly through the series.

Outside of the back stories that detract from the overall suspense and emotion of the Profiler/Murderer dynamic established within the novel, Amanda Kyle Williams creates an entertaining, gripping first installment to a series that should only get better as it is developed.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bantam. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.