Minotaur Books | 2019
Opening Hook: Skeletons as a crash pad.
Main Character: Made of cardboard, but good at her job.
Plot Twisty-ness: Mommy would be proud.
I read Caged last year, the first in this series featuring FBI agent/neuroscientist Sayer Altair, and my review basically came down to two things.
One: the twists were uninspired. While they did exist, it was the same thing over and over again and it became predictable and monotonous.
And two: the lead character of Agent Altair was boring AF. I’m sorry, but girl has the personality of a cardboard cutout.
For the second instalment in the series, I’m happy to say the author definitely fixed the first issue and clearly tried to make some headway with the second. That’s why this book gets half a star more than its predecessor.
That’s just the kind of generous reviewer I am.
When we meet with Sayer again, she has healing wounds and is just coming off desk duty after a run-in with a serial killer in Buried. She has an unconventional growing family, is continuing her study of psychopaths’ brains and has become part of an intense Congressional investigation that might see big changes at the FBI, some of which felt kind of parallel to today in this totally fucked Trump Upside Down.
Sayer is called out to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia when an agent on vacation, with his cadaver dog, happens to stumble across a big hole in the ground filled with dead bodies and skeletons. And that’s never not going to be a good time.
Because of the congressional hearings, Sayer is short-staffed and has to put together a rag-tag team of investigators to determine just what the actual fuck is going on in that national park.
Truthfully, Sayer is still just as boring as ever. She lacks humour and genuine character quality that would make her personality more accessible for the reader. Any jokes she does attempt feel stilted and awkward, and her bouts of anger and sadness are pretty corny or out-of-left-field. But, she’s good at her job, smart and tough. Also, I love that she’s a PoC in a powerful position. So, while I find her stale, she’s still a powerful badass female and I’m totally here for as much of that as I can get in my crime fiction.
The plot for this book was so much more full and interesting this time around, that it basically didn’t matter that Sayer is an odd life-like robot. There is a ton of interesting psychological elements, character development, and call-back plot details from the first book. There were always some new climax/pinch points, guaranteeing that the story never got stagnant or felt slow. And while this could definitely be read as a standalone, I think to really appreciate the continuous thread of storytelling that Cooper is creating it’s best to meet Sayer at the beginning.
All the confetti for having a completely unexpected why for the motivations in this book. I 100% did not see it coming, though I did figure out the who about half-way through. But the complex history and intricate plotting that was done for the killer to make them stand out from the crowd was so intriguing and different that the reveal of the who being obvious, didn’t take away from the ending at all.
I have to mention the serious goosebumps-on-your-ass chills that are laced throughout the story whenever Subject 037 pops up. This unknown person in Sayer’s psychopath study was creepy, and the exchanges between him and Sayer were so wonderfully written that I really could use a whole book of just that. There definitely has to be more of that special, sinister little freak in upcoming instalments.
Overall, I think this second book really established Cooper’s series as one to read. If you’re a fan of Criminal Minds, FBI, The Killing or any of the other 100 million shows about police and serial killers you need to get on this shit.
In Ellison Cooper’s suspense thriller Buried, an FBI neuroscientist is on the trail of a serial killer who’s turned up the heat on a cold case…
Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn’t expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones.
Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer’s team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims.
But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer’s investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.–and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer…