A Book Spy Review: ‘UNSUB’ By Meg Gardiner

Meg Gardiner UNSUB

Growing up, Caitlin Hendrix, like everyone else in the community, anxiously waited for the authorities to apprehend the Prophet, an evil serial killer who loved tormenting the media and the police, both of which were always several steps behind him.

Caitlin, unlike everyone else, had a front row seat to the FBI’s investigation. Her father, Mack Hendrix, was the lead detective working the case–and she watched as the Prophet slowly drove him to the brink of insanity with his endless mind games and misdirection.

As the case consumed Mack’s life, he couldn’t help but bring his work home with him–both literally and figuratively. One night, as a child, Caitlin listened as her father spoke on the phone to a colleague of his about the case. The Prophet had teased that he would kill again, and Mack was losing his mind trying to piece together every clue in time to stop the murderer. 

As her father paced outside on the phone, young Caitlin quietly made her way to the garage, where Mack had hung photos and laid out other evidence to help him work the case, which he did nearly twenty-four hours a day. She knew what was in there because her father had forbidden her to enter to keep her innocent eyes from seeing the Prophet’s evil work.

Disobeying, Caitlin walked into the garage and was immediately consumed with the horror her father had been battling and working nonstop to protect her and the rest of the Bay Area from.

Twenty years later, Caitlin now works as a narcotics detective. Her father, who never did catch the Prophet, is a damaged man who struggles with depression and even attempted suicide at one point to escape his failures. The Prophet, for whatever reason, stopped killing and hasn’t claimed another victim for two decades. He remains an UNSUB–FBI-speak for an unidentified subject–with his true identity still unknown to authorities.

After a successful drug raid one night, Caitlin is called to another crime scene. Her boss never bothers to explain why he called Caitlin and not a homicide detective, instead, he leads her to the victim’s corpse and shows her what prompted them to involve her.

Pounded into the victim’s chest is a pattern of nails, the same pattern that Caitlin had seen in the photos hanging in her garage as a child. And close by, another body was found along with a cryptic note that teased more was yet to come.

After laying dormant for twenty years, the Prophet has returned to killing.

Asked to help provide insight into the Prophet’s motives and thought process, Mack refuses to get involved with the case. It already ruined his life once, and he begs his daughter to stay clear of it as well, warning her that the Prophet will destroy her too. But Caitlin feels a pull towards the investigation and longs to unmask the killer who terrorized the Bay Area and nearly destroyed her father.

Once it’s reported that the daughter of the original detective who worked on the case twenty years ago is now heading up the new investigation, the Prophet begins to taunt Caitlin directly–flaunting the fact that she can’t decipher his codes and catch him.

After convincing her boss to let her switch from narcotics to homicide, Caitlin starts by going back to the beginning and pouring over the original files her dad helped compile decades ago. Soon, another body turns up, as does another message from the Prophet–who makes it clear he’s just getting started. 

Inspired by the real-life Zodiac killer who was never caught, Meg Gardiner turns in a complicated, well-researched, scary-good crime novel that feels all too realistic. As suspects emerge, readers will form their own opinions about the Prophet’s true identity. In fact, I was convinced I had the case solved before Caitlin, only to have Gardiner pull the rug out from beneath my theory.

With the Bay Area once again living in fear as a serial killer remains on the loose and keeps claiming victims, Caitlin races to solve the case that nearly did her father in–and that is now threatening her own sanity.

Meg Gardiner knows how to get readers’ hearts pumping, and she brings plenty of thrills with this one. UNSUB is a first-rate crime thriller that’s well-written and carefully plotted. Just when readers think they’ve zeroed in on the killer, Gardiner delivers one devilish twist after another. 

Book Details

Author: Meg Gardiner
Series: Caitlin Hendrix #1
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101985526
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: June 20, 2017 (Order Now!)


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