What’s it all about?:
A gutsy, gory, startlingly original serial killer thriller with a heroine who’ll blow a hole in the American crime landscape.
In her hey-day, ex FBI agent Brigid Quinn not only worked serial killer cases but became their prize. Small and blond, from a distance she looked vulnerable and slight. . . the perfect bait to catch a killer. But as Quinn got older, she realised she needed to find a protegee, a younger field agent to take her place. So Quinn trains a twenty-two year old and lets her loose in the field. The plan works. Until the Route 66 killer not only takes the bait, but kills the bait too.
Years on, Quinn is trying to move past the fact that she has a young woman’s death on her conscience. She’s now the perfect Stepford Wife – until she gets a knock on her door. The girl’s body has finally been discovered. Quinn is pulled back into the case and the more she learns about the killer the more she comes to believe, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence to hand, that they have the wrong man.
What did I think?:
Rage Against The Dying is the last novel picked for Richard and Judy’s Spring Book Club 2014 here in the UK and is the first thriller from American writer Becky Masterman, normally an acquisitions editor for a press specialising in medical textbooks for forensic examiners and law enforcement. I’m sure that this has been a great help during her research for the novel as it comes across as coming from an incredibly knowledgeable source. The title comes from a Dylan Thomas poem and involves a retired FBI agent called Brigid Quinn whom in her heyday worked almost exclusively on serial killer cases however there was one case she was never able to solve, the perp still remaining at large and which led to the death of a young undercover agent which haunts her constantly. The Route 66 killer entraps young women who he often catches out hitch-hiking on the highway, slashing one of their Achilles tendons, removing an ear as a trophy and brutally strangling them before posing their bodies grotesquely for the police to find.
Years later and with no leads or suspect behind bars, Brigid is enjoying her retirement with her new husband Carlos, learning how to “be a good wife,” developing an interest in geology and trying to keep as much of her past (some of which is decidedly murky) hidden as possible from her husband. However, her past soon catches up with her when an old colleague rings to inform Brigid that the young undercover agent’s body has finally been uncovered and that they finally have a suspect in custody who is making a full confession to all of the Route 66 crimes. Once again Brigid becomes immersed and fascinated with the case, especially when she discovers that the confession from the detained suspect is decidedly fishy. What happens next throws Brigid’s whole life upside down as she grapples with a very real danger both to herself and to the ones she loves.
This has been said before about this novel but can I just re-iterate how refreshing it is to read a crime novel where our main character is an intelligent and very feisty OLDER woman. I absolutely loved the character of Brigid, a flawed but intensely “real” and vulnerable woman, and was so excited to realise that this was going to be the first in a series of books featuring her story. This is probably not a novel for the weaker of stomachs as there are some intense and rather gory moments but I found the plotline to be so powerful and compelling that every graphic interlude only served to stress the brilliance of Becky Masterman’s writing. Furthermore, hooray, isn’t it wonderful to know life doesn’t have to be downhill after a certain age? And this woman certainly knows how to kick butt, even in her retirement which is invigorating to read. If this isn’t enough brilliance for you we also have two adorable pugs – known only as PUGS, which certainly won me over even more. This is a fantastic debut novel by an author I’m really quite excited over and it gives me all the key ingredients that I love in a thriller – brilliant and chilling plot, fabulous and strong female lead AND the promise of more to come…what else could I want?
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):