My roommate asked me the other day if I liked murder mysteries. I told her I did, as long as there were good characters. Though I initially despaired of making a connection with the characters of Say Goodbye, things eventually picked up to make a well crafted, if disturbing, mystery.
Kimberly Quincy is an FBI agent, married to another FBI agent, and 4 months pregnant. Though her husband wants her to back down from her work, especially the dangerous cases, she soon finds herself involved in a potential case, based on the word of one pregnant hooker and six drivers’ licenses left on her colleague’s windshield, all prostitutes who are missing. When Kimberly starts getting strange phone calls, it gets harder for her to put this case aside. She begins searching for a man, obsessed with spiders, who forces his victims to tell him the name of a loved one – who then becomes his next victim.
Looking back, having completed the book, I can see the reasoning behind the structure of the novel; though for much of the book I was frustrated by head-hopping, flash-backs, characters who did not appear to have any bearing to the story, it did all come together in the end.
I also found it easier to connect with Kimberly as the book went on. It’s easy to see that Kimberly is a recurring heroine, though I’ve never read anything by Lisa Gardner before. Despite one moment between Kimberly and her colleague, I found her a strong heroine, intelligent, believable, and relatable. That one moment was unnecessary and served no purpose. Everything else came around in the end, except that one moment (about which I am purposely being vague, as to not spoil anything). Her husband, Mac, also was realistic, likable, and they had a fairly good relationship, though one that is perhaps more “reality” based than most romances.
There’s no question that this book is upsetting. The subject matter is disturbing, there are numerous scenes of sexual violence against children, and if you have arachnophobia, prepare yourself. However, it isn’t just the scenes themselves that made me uncomfortable, but the thought that it all raises: what makes killers do what they do? Many suspense authors attempt to make this question come to the forefront, but Ms. Gardner takes the victim/victimizer dynamic to levels I haven’t seen in a long time.
This book isn’t for the faint of heart, and while the intense and upsetting nature of the book will prevent me from re-reading it, it’s also a strongly written, well developed, and nicely constructed story. If you can deal with intense subject matter, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the suspense in Say Goodbye.