Five young women, all vanished on July 6 in consecutive years. All pretty, fitting the same physical description, and all engaged to be married. Now, for the first time, one of them has been found, gruesomely tortured and killed. For homicide lieutenant Jake Carrington the case brings up ugly memories of his long-lost sister, but he has to set aside personal feelings and find justice for these murdered brides before the killer strikes again.
This is a police procedural with a lot of focus on the nitty-gritty of the investigation, kept interesting in that it’s told through the interpretive lens of Jake’s point of view. We also get a lot of Jake’s personal life with his psychiatrist girlfriend Mia, and that of Jake’s faithful partner Louie and his wife Sophia.
I was disappointed by the lack of female authority figures here. Captain, chief of police, commissioner and mayor were all male and Jake, when given free rein to select his task force from the entire police department, chose all-male detectives. Both Mia and Sophia, the only women with significant page time in the book, are portrayed as victims who have to be taken care of by their menfolk. The one female police officer who features at all, Stella, is basically there to be a babysitter to Mia because Jake’s ego couldn’t stand having a man watch over her.
Though the book starts out with Jake insisting they give the victims the dignity of their names, it ends disappointingly too, with four out of nine murder victims not even identified and the plot sidetracked to catch Mia’s stalker, which was obviously someone who’d appeared in a previous book since I lost track of what was going on at that point.
The most interesting character in the book was the killer, obsessed with the woman who left him at the altar and trying to replace her. I wanted to know more about how he tried to force his victims to fit her mold; he kept them for weeks at a minimum yet we only saw the grisly end. We didn’t get enough time in his PoV to really understand his psychology, even though it was obvious from early on which suspect was the killer.
Though this had its good parts, I found myself frustrated and wishing for a better ending and women with more agency and influence in the story. I wouldn’t read another in this series. Two stars.
All The Pretty Brides is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.