Meg Gardiner is amazing. Last year, she took her game to a whole new level with UNSUB, the first book in a new series starring detective Caitlin Hendrix. From top to bottom, and all the way around, that book is awesome. Caitlin is a great new character, and Gardiner delivered a terrifying plot with a wicked twist at the end that’s so shocking that readers are still talking about it.
Heading into 2018, Gardiner’s second Caitlin Hendrix novel, Into the Black Nowhere, was one of the main books I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. In fact, I remember the day it arrived. . .
I was working in my office when my UPS guy (whom I’ve gotten to know quite well, as you might imagine) dropped off another armload of book-sized packages. I was expecting one from Dutton (Gardiner’s publisher) so when I saw an envelope from them I tore it open expecting something else and was elated to see Gardiner’s book land on my desk. True story: I canceled my other plans and sat and read her book from start to finish. It’s every bit as good as UNSUB and then some, and starts with a scary-good chapter that’ll especially freak you out if you have a young child in your home. . . which I do, by the way.
I highly recommend this book, which is one of the few titles that truly is a crime thriller. Usually, books fall under one of two categories — crime or thriller. But Gardiner brings the heat, and her fast-paced crime novel moves at a speed that rivals some of today’s best thriller writers. Caitlin is now with the FBI, and she’s helping to chase a serial killer who’s running loose in Texas. But to do so, she has to get in the mind of a murderer and take a few chances along the way.
Gardiner will get your heart pumping with this one, believe me.
I’d like to thank Meg Gardiner for coming back this year for another Five Questions segment, and for once again providing such great answers. Read the quick Q&A below, followed by the plot details for Into the Black Nowhere, in stores tomorrow, Tuesday, January 30th.
TRBS: UNSUB was so good, and I couldn’t wait to see how you’d top yourself with Into the Black Nowhere. Turns out, you did just that, delivering another terrifying, entertaining, and unputdownable thriller. How did you come up with the plot idea for this book?
Gardiner: “Thanks — I’m thrilled you enjoyed the novel. It was sparked by Ted Bundy, a prolific killer who was only exposed after years of abducting young women in plain sight. When he was nearby, college girls simply vanished. The case gave me goosebumps. I was amazed by how easily a psychopath can wear ‘the mask of sanity.’ People see a handsome up-and-comer, the kind of guy parents are happy for their daughter to bring home to dinner. In reality, they’re facing a vicious killer who’s carrying out a cross-country campaign of murder.
“Into the Black Nowhere pits Caitlin Hendrix and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit against a killer who’s that dangerous. It’s a cat-and-mouse thriller. Caitlin pursues a charming, devious murderer across the western US, fighting to stop him before he kills again.”
TRBS: I know you did a lot of research for UNSUB, what kind of research did you do for Into the Black Nowhere?
Gardiner: “I attended several workshops for writers given by the FBI at their New York headquarters. I spoke to psychiatrists about the psychology of serial killers. I choreographed fight scenes. (Neighbors — if you spotted any battles in my living room, they were all staged for the book.) I studied how to clear a jammed semiautomatic handgun. And, because the novel is set partly in Austin, I ate at every taco stand in town, for the sake of authenticity.”
TRBS: Caitlin Hendrix is such a phenomenal character. Who was your inspiration for her, and is the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit that she works with in this book a real unit within the FBI? Assuming it is, why did you choose to make her part of that team?
Gardiner: “Caitlin was inspired by the many women in law enforcement who put themselves on the front line on our behalf. And the Behavioral Analysis Unit is very real. It helps investigate some of the country’s toughest, most deadly cases. Caitlin is a protector and a hunter. There’s no place she’d rather be.”
TRBS: Last year, news broke that CBS TV Studios purchased the rights to UNSUB with the intention of bringing Caitlin to the small screen. Any updates on that front?
Gardiner: “The pilot is being written by Liz Friedman, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter who has produced and written for television shows including Orange Is the New Black, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, House, and Elementary. It’s a thrill to have such an exciting and accomplished writer adapt my novel.”
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you now that Into the Black Nowhere is coming out? Will you take some time off or jump right into the next book?
Gardiner: “I’m working on UNSUB 3. Though maybe I’ll hit a few taco stands before I start the first draft.”
In this exhilarating thriller inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer.
In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck is “is the guy in the thriller world that people talk to behind the scenes.” (Mark Greaney, New York Times bestselling author). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.