The Coldest Fear by Rick Reed

A fast-paced crime thriller involving a serial killer; likable, witty detectives; and a mess of body parts.

Rick Reed, former police detective and author of the true crime Blood Trail, brings back Detective Jack Murphy from his first novel The Cruelest Cut in this suspenseful ride. A woman’s body is found mutilated and missing parts in a bathtub at the Marriot in Evansville, Indiana; mere hours later, Jack is looking at her right hand, arranged alongside the similarly abused body of a young mother in the projects. The bodies stack up quickly as Jack and his partner struggle to keep up with their own investigation. A local newspaper reporter scoops them at every turn, and his source just might be their serial killer. They’re taken out to a small town with a two-man police department, and then an FBI profiler is brought in, as the case quickly spins into mammoth proportions and spans jurisdictions.

Reed lends his professional expertise to this thriller in which the vantage point shifts from Jack’s criminal investigation to the perspective of the killer, providing a unique reading experience. The murderer remains nameless, but we get glimpses into what drives him and what makes him hesitate. When his identity is finally revealed, the shock is not lessened, but the journey gets an interesting twist from the shifting viewpoint.

Reed’s second crime thriller delivers with fast-paced suspense, twists and turns, the humor of several witty detectives and that rarity of fiction, a likeable FBI agent. Gruesome serial killings are balanced by banter, the sweet if harried relationship between Jack and his parole officer girlfriend, and an ending with a note of hope.

This review originally ran in the September 16, 2011 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

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