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"The Stranger You Seek' isn't for the squeamish

"The Stranger You Seek' isn't for the squeamish

"The Stranger You Seek" (Bantam Books), by Amanda Kyle Williams

September 1st, 2011 by MICHELLE WIENER, For The Associated Press in News

At the start of Amanda Kyle Williams' "The Stranger You Seek," readers are in the head of a serial killer ready to strike. It's a short passage made all the more powerful by the information it conveys: The killer plans these crimes meticulously, and can gain access to just about anyone.

By the time ex-FBI profiler Keye Street arrives at the crime scene, readers have learned two more things: The killer is extraordinarily sadistic and spends a good deal of time writing a knife play fetish blog, in which past and present crimes are recounted.

And we're off on a creepy, suspenseful, breathtaking ride as Street, now running a PI business and tracking bail jumpers on the side, assists the Atlanta police in finding the killer dubbed "Wishbone" by the media before the death toll rises, and it's not long before the killer starts taunting and threatening Street herself.

Street is a unique and worthy addition to the rich tradition of damaged and tough private detectives: She's an adopted Chinese-American with typically Southern parents; is dealing with a failed marriage and an ex-husband who still has a hold on her; and is a recovering alcoholic - the cause of her dismissal from the FBI.

Williams dispatches each of the crime-scene descriptions with a flair for the graphic and grisly. "The Stranger You Seek" is not a book for the squeamish, and the fetish blog entries in particular may include triggers for survivors of sexual assaults. There's a romantic subplot that doesn't quite have the right buildup for its ultimate payoff, and the mystery's solution might be a bit of a letdown for eagle-eyed readers, but these are slight criticisms for what is otherwise a fantastic mystery-thriller debut in what will assuredly be a successful series.