Unsub: A Novel by Meg Gardiner


Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnsubThis is a very interesting, almost nerve-racking, story about a young female detective as she tries to learn about, find, and corral a demented man.
The man called the Unsub has returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a hiatus of 20 some years. On his first appearance he had terrorized the Bay area with his cryptic messages and killings. He also basically ruined a police officer both physically and mentally. This new young female detective, Caitlin Hendrix, is the daughter of that retired and fairly disabled police officer, Mack Hendrix.

Caitlyn basically grew up in a broken home as her mother was unable to cope with Mack’s mental condition after his encounter with the Unsub also known as the Prophet. Caitlyn however decided she wanted to be a police officer and worked her way onto the county’s Narcotics Force. One night while she was at home with her ATF policeman/boyfriend she got a call to report at once to a crime scene.

There Sergeant Guthrie informed her that he had requested that she be assigned to this new case because it appears to be the same methods and such as used by the Prophet years ago. He knows of her father’s condition but believes that because of Caitlyn’s desire to help her father and because Guthrie hopes that her father may even work out to be of assistance in the new case.

The body of a young woman was found not only brutally murdered but with the symbol of the Prophet pounded into her chest by shiny nails. They immediately begin looking around the property for another victim and find him in a nearby cornfield also dead and with silver nails throughout his body. Along with the bodies they also find a note which basically says that although people thought he was gone the Prophet was back. Yes he was already leaving bodies and notes that told of how his prophecies would come true.

All of his notes and warnings throughout the first visit and now in the new encounter speak about things from various famous books and seem to be centered around things from Dante’s Inferno especially.

Unsub goes on then for several weeks as the authorities attempt to find and arrest this unknown man. He continues to do his killings and leave his notes. He also begins alerting the authorities and Caitlyn, especially, by phone or by taped recordings that show where, when, and how he killed his victims. All of the killings have specific reference to certain things that have and will happen as the process continues.

Guthrie finally convinces Caitlyn to get her dad involved although he is basically not able to due to his physical and mental condition. But she, with her boyfriend, does use Mack for some assistance. Mainly however they have to continue to work over the notes, phone calls, and recordings to attempt to figure out where he is and what he is planning next.

He does continue to speak of the planned happenings as they supposedly happened in Dante’s Inferno and other books. He also basically is definitely targeting Caitlyn and her dad as he considers them his prime enemies.

The book will keep any reader glued to it to the end as it really is interesting and hair-raising. Not spooky with ghosts but spooky because no one knows when, where, or how this killer will pull off his next caper. Great read if you enjoy tension!!! Actually after the finish there is a neat possible lead-in to a new Unsub book by Gardiner. First book of Gardiner’s that I have read but surely expect to read more after this one!