Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-08
- Reviewer: Staff
Pashley’s gritty debut, told from the viewpoints of two cousins, follows Rayelle Reed, who joins a detective named Couper Gale as they research a trail of missing women who were—unbeknownst to Rayelle—murdered by her cousin Khaki Reed. Khaki leaves South Lake (in an unnamed Southern state) at 16 with an older boyfriend, much to the consternation of her younger cousin Rayelle, who loved her like a sister despite Khaki’s disturbing behavior toward her. After an accident claims her daughter, Rayelle finds herself, at 23, back in her mean mother’s trailer. She finds respite with the older Couper, who’s resisting signing his divorce papers while in the area to work on a book. Meanwhile, in harsh, straightforward prose, Pashley delivers the harrowing details of Khaki’s childhood of sexual and physical abuse, and her emergence as a serial killer who lures victims with her unassuming appearance and the guise of caring for the wounded. Pashley does a superb job contrasting Rayelle’s haunted, regret-tinged chapters with the minutiae of Khaki’s cold, calculating world. The narrative bristles with tension as Rayelle gets closer to Khaki, culminating in a big reveal that changes the way the reader views the cousins’ childhood interactions. After all this, the lackluster ending feels like a cop-out and is the only disappointing thing about this otherwise satisfying book. (Aug.)