My mother is a big fan of the true crime genre, and I've always read everything I could get my hands on, so I've read plenty of books about serial killers both real and fictional. Serial K by Brian Gallagher is an intriguing addition to the genre; a fictional tale of a serial killer whose 'signature' is copycat killings based on the work of other infamous serial killers.
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of the killer himself and the two principal FBI agents trying to catch him. Ryan O'Callahan and Lea Pucci are a former husband and wife team, separated by their careers geographically but never really making the emotional break. As a consequence, they work well together, with none of the awkwardness or holding back which might come from agents who are not as close. Pucci, the profiler, has a good handle on the killer from the beginning; the problem being that the profile could fit many thousands of different people.
The story heats up as the killer moves around America, killing more and more frequently and leaving homages to his heroes and taunting notes to the FBI on the bodies of his victims. The conclusion of the story is a clever hook which definitely leaves me intrigued for book 2... perhaps it's a slight spoiler that the FBI don't catch the killer by the end of this book.
While I really enjoyed the story - and learned about some serial killers even I had never heard of - I think it needed a decent editor to go over it. Spelling and grammar mistakes and incorrect words were present, though relatively few and far between, and the dialogue and language felt stilted at times. With the reader privy to all of the killer's thoughts and plans, the build-up of suspense was regularly destroyed as we immediately found out what he was going to do next, and were reduced to reading about the horrified reactions of the investigating agents.
I did enjoy the read and I'd be happy to read more of Brian Gallagher's work, but I'd strongly recommend the author engage a editor to go over this and any future books to give them a more professional polish.
I give Serial K 4 out of 5 stars.
Serial K was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day and you can read more about it at the Online Book Club's Bookshelves entry for the book.