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The Stranger You Seek: A Novel Hardcover – August 30, 2011
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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Guest Reviewer: Tess Gerritsen on The Stranger You Seek
Tess Gerritsen is a physician as well as the New York Times best-selling author of medical thrillers and the Jane Rizzoli crime thrillers. Her latest book in the Rizzoli & Isles series, The Silent Girl, is available now. Southern crime novels are a breed apart because of the weather. The heat is always a little more sweltering, the humidity always making everyone sweat just a bit more than their northern counterparts. There are the great New Orleans novels by James Lee Burke, and there is the Florida gang. There are even a few who set their most terrifying thrillers in the backwoods and bayous. For genuine heat, though, nothing beats Atlanta, a jewel of a city and the setting for Amanda Kyle Williams’s blistering debut thriller, The Stranger You Seek. Keye Street immediately puts herself in the top echelon of suspense heroes. She’s a mess of fascinating contradictions—effortlessly brilliant on a case, totally inept in managing her own life. She is brutally funny and powerfully human. Williams has created one of the most realistic protagonists in crime fiction that I’ve had the thrill to read. Of course, a southern crime novel needs a great villain, someone who amidst all this heat gets people running. The Stranger You Seek has a heck of a monster on the loose, a killer who is terrorizing Atlanta, taunting the police, and who seems a little too close to Keye to be just the stranger she seeks.
Advance praise for The Stranger You Seek
“She is the best fictional female P.I. since Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone. And with its shocking triple-twist climax, this is the best private eye debut since Dennis Lehane's "A Drink Before the War." Grade: A —Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“This is a character-driven, nonstop thriller with flashes of wit and romance that
builds to a harrowing climax; fans of the genre will want to get in at the start.” —Booklist
“Williams (Club Twelve, 1994, etc.) creates a frightening and occasionally witty novel, perfect for those who can sleep with one eye open. Think Mary Higgins Clark with an edge.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“An explosive, unpredictable, and psychologically complex thriller that turns crime fiction cliches inside out….Those looking for a strong female protagonist not a sexpot and as intelligent, tough, and flawed as any male thriller hero will be richly rewarded.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An exceptionally smart, harrowing, and funny character-driven debut by a welcome new thriller writer.”—New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter
“There’s a new voice in Atlanta, and her name is Amanda Kyle Williams. A dark, gritty thriller, The Stranger You Seek is a sensational debut. Readers will relish this story’s many captivating, powerful, and compelling layers.”—New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming
“The Stranger You Seek is a page-turning thrill ride from a writer with a sure hand, keen psychological insight, and a devious imagination. Keye Street is my kind of detective: complicated, savvy, flawed, and blessed with a sharply observant dark wit. This is a great read from a powerful new voice.”—New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson
“From its chilling first page, The Stranger You Seek hurtles heroine Keye Street into a race against time that crosses the finish line with a satisfying twist, leaving readers breathlessly waiting for the next installment.”—New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub
“The Stranger You Seek is filled with rich, evocative prose that transports you straight to the South and right into the psyche of new heroine Keye Street. She’s formidable, but poignantly human as she struggles to navigate her present while battling shadows of her past. You can almost feel the Georgia humidity when you read this book, but you’ll definitely feel the heat when the victims of a calculating, relentless serial killer start stacking up. This book burns rubber to the end, so carve out some downtime, because you won’t want to leave Keye hanging.”—PJ Tracy, author of the Monkeewrench series
“Keye Street is a kick-ass protagonist! Strap yourself in for a twisting, turning carnival ride of a plot through the New South—this is compulsive reading!”—Vicki Lane, author of The Day of Small Things
“The Stranger You Seek is a riveting debut with rapid-fire pacing, expert plotting, and an introduction to the memorable and winning Keye Street. Both Williams and Street should be around for the long haul, so discover them now from the start.”—Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone
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The novel goes into Keye's background. She was adopted as a young child after her grandparents were killed. Her biological parents were both addicts and her mother was an exotic dancer. Her adopted brother Jimmy is gay and lives in Seattle. Her best friend is Aaron Rauser, a homicide detective with the Atlanta Police Department. There is an underlying electrical charge between them.
A serial killer, named 'Wishbone' by the media, is terrorizing the city. Aaron asks Keye to help out with the case and she reluctantly agrees. As the extent of Wishbone's killing becomes evident, Keye realizes that it has been going on for more than a decade. The killings are usually done with a knife and are sexually based.
I found the book a real page turner but was disappointed by the ending. It felt like a deus ex machina was thrust at me and I wished that hadn't occurred. Other than that, this is the start of a great series. I have already read the third, and last, book in this series and loved it.
It starts with:
Keye Street is a dry alcoholic,a passionate believer in Krystal cheeseburgers and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a former behavioral analyst for the FBI. Adopted as "a scrawny Chinese American with questionable genes", she grew up in the south where she had "the distinction of looking like what they still call a damn foreigner in most parts of Georgia and sounding like a hick everywhere else in the world."
A demented killer is leaving bodies all over Atlanta with no apparent rhyme or reason. Keye, as an ex-FBI profiler (dismissed because of her alcoholism) and Rauser, Atlanta police detective on the case work together to catch the serial killer.
Also, throughout the books are interesting cases Keye gets assigned as a P.I. - some are frightening - others are funny
This is in some ways a tale of recovery, of the ability to hold demon alcohol at arms length start a new life. So there is a good message of perseverance and tenaciousness seen in Keye Street an ethnic oriental with a southern drawl. Keye is a surprising blend of personalities. She struggles every day with being a recovering alcoholic yet she has time for kindness to strangers and a self destructive bent for chasing unnecessary violence. I really enjoyed the complexity of personality written for this character. I thought all of the characters were well fleshed out - and "real"
The storyline moves quickly and smoothly with touches of humor here and there. The action is superb and believable and comes at you. Ms. Williams has a way of letting you "personally know" the characters and it is done subtly.
When I read the third book first, I just had to have the other two books and I was not disappointed. The characters of Keye Street and Aaron Rauser are a dynamic due. Keye has issues that ware deep but that doesn't keep her down and she works through them. Detective Rauser is a caring but tough policeman that will go to any lengths to get the bad guy.
If you like your story with action, thrills, suspense and a tiny bit of romance, by all means, read Amanda Kyle Williams' novel featuring Keye Street. You will not be disappointed!!
Keye Street has been roped in to helping the police as a consulting profiler. She can't say no to her best friend, lieutenant Aaron Rauser of Homicide, who's in charge of the case. Keye and Rauser love each other, without admitting it, and in spite of other entanglements. Their jocular, chaste relationship intensifies as the plot unfolds.
Keye is an interesting character - Chinese American, a brilliant behavior analyst, and a sober alcoholic with a monumental sweet tooth. Fired from the FBI for drunkenness, she is now a private investigator, mostly a process server and bail recovery agent. Keye's home is in Atlanta, and she's incurably Southern, like her white parents by adoption.
I really felt like I was in Georgia as I read this novel. Maybe it was the fried pies, or the pumpkin cheesecake with maple glaze and toasted pecans - or the missing cow case Keye takes on in rural Georgia. Keye's work life felt very authentic to me. Not surprising, since the author has handled surveillance operations and worked as a court-appointed process server.
I enjoyed this book very much, although the crimes were a little too creepy for my taste, and I found one element of the ending a bit improbable. But Keye Street is a very likeable sleuth, as tough as the bail jumpers she tracks down and cuffs, and flawed in completely sympathetic ways. I look forward to following this series.