This review was written last year, before I switched to my new format. I participated in the book blog tour and opted to post an excerpt. My review of the next book is scheduled for March 30th, so I decided this was the perfect time to finally share my review of The Third to Die
Ordered to take a mandatory leave and spend time with her grandmother in the small town of Liberty Lake, Washington, LAPD detective Kara Quinn stumbles across a body near the lake. With limited local resources, the FBI’s new Mobile Response Team is sent in to help the local law enforcement, especially when it becomes clear it’s likely the work of a serial killer for whom the number 3 holds importance. With time quickly running out and a second body turning up, Kara and FBI special agent Mathias Costa rush to protect potential third victims and catch the Triple Killer before he can kill again.
I enjoy a good thriller, and I have a fascination with serial killers. This particular serial killer drew me in because of the fascination with the number 3, and I really wanted to know who the third victim was going to be. Unfortunately, I felt like there were a couple of layers too many to this story to really make me feel like I was reading a thriller, but it does make for an interesting start to a series.
A Strong Trio
In general, I found the characters to be interesting, but not highly unique. Some of the members of the Mobile Response Team and members of the local law enforcement quickly became jumbled in my head and I soon found myself no longer caring who worked for what as long as the killer was caught. Indeed, by the end, it didn’t really matter. All that was important was catching the killer before the third person was killed. Still, it was a little annoying to feel lost when a character was named and I couldn’t figure out who they were supposed to be or what they were doing.
The three main characters were LAPD detective Kara Quinn, a highly intense undercover cop on forced leave who was still consumed by the case that forced her away from LA; FBI special agent Mathias Costa who lived and breathed his job; and, of course, the killer, who had a few chapters that revealed a little more of the crazy thinking that went into each murder. Only these three felt really fully realized, like they could be real people. They were each flawed, yet truly believed in their work. It was fun to read about their relationships and dances around each other.
Kara and FBI profiler Catherine Jones both had their own story arcs. Actually, Catherine’s role felt to be more minimal than the novel made it out to be. I didn’t find her to be particularly helpful or interesting, but she was given her own story line. I was most bothered by it because it didn’t fit well in the overall scheme of the story. I could have done without it. Her story felt more like padding than anything else. Kara’s story arc was woven in better, especially since it was about the case that had sent her on administrative leave so was on her mind quite a bit. Still, it didn’t seem to fit perfectly. It was useful because it lets the reader know why she was in Liberty Lake and definitely makes the series possible, but it felt like there was a bit too much emphasis on it.
A Cozy, Sinister Small Town
I adore small town settings. They can feel cozy. They can feel intimate. They can feel sinister. In a place where it’s possible to know many people, yet still not know everyone, it adds a nice layer of tension. Liberty Lake managed to feel cozy and wide open at the same time. It was small enough to feel safe, which was quickly shattered, adding to the tense atmosphere.
My favorite part of the setting was the time of year: winter. Well, it’s towards the end of winter, but there was still snow on the ground, a storm coming in, and plenty of cold weather. It added to the dark, sinister feel. It was cold and stark, ripping away any warmth and fuzzy feelings.
Overall, the setting was probably my favorite part of this book. I loved that people knew people, but didn’t know everyone. I loved that it was small enough to not be overwhelming, but big enough to not feel confining. It felt desolate with all the cold and snow, adding that layer of tension and fear that I didn’t get anywhere else.
Intriguing, But Not Suspenseful
I wouldn’t call this a particularly suspenseful read. I found it pleasant and intriguing, but definitely not heart pounding. I didn’t feel like it held tension well since it tended to loosen up almost as soon as it started.
What annoyed me the most were the chapters told from the killer’s perspective. Though it was interesting to get their take on their deeds and the law enforcement’s progress on the case, it sapped the tension out of the book. It made it easy to figure out what was going on and where the story was going. Of course, it was the only way the reader can know the killer’s motivations, so cuts out the need for a lengthy debriefing at the end, but I didn’t enjoy feeling like I was a step ahead of Kara and Mathias. But I did find the killer to be much more interesting than the case, interestingly enough. I suppose the bad guy was just that well done!
I also felt like there were too many elements thrown in. Stripped down, it’s a simple story with a case that doesn’t have too much complexity. It’s straightforward and the answers are quickly available to Kara and Mathias. But more was heaped on top, more that almost felt extraneous. Like Catherine’s story. She wasn’t even in Liberty Lake, wasn’t constantly called on, yet had a lengthy arc that didn’t have too much to do with the case. I wonder if it’s to set up something else in a later book, but, in this story, I didn’t feel it added much. Overall, I think this story suffered from too much information, which added too much fat and released too much tension.
Nice Setup for a Series
This was a nice suspenseful read, but I’m reluctant to call it thrilling. The end was certainly action packed, but, at the same time, it felt a bit out of character for the killer. I enjoyed the main characters and am interested in seeing how their stories progress, but this initial case felt a little too easy and left me looking for heart stopping moments.
How many cups of tea will you need?
3 cups should do
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Thank you to Justine Sha and MIRA Books for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.