To Catch a Killer
Pet peeves are weird things. In the hands of the right writer, they can disappear and make you wonder what you ever had against that particular plot device in the first place. But then you come across it used exactly in the manner that made you despise that particular conceit to begin with and your prejudice comes flooding back. That is what happened to me while reading To Catch a Killer.
Ten years ago Kara Thistle left the sleepy coast town of Lantern’s Cove to pursue her dream of becoming an FBI agent. Some in the town felt she had done so at the expense of a favored son and none more so than police chief Mathew Beuchamp. Now she is drawn back in pursuit of a deadly killer known as the Baby Sitter. And she is forced to face Mathew, a man from whom she is determined to hide her most dangerous secret.
Mathew Beauchamp doesn’t want to be made an outsider on his own case by the Feds, and he is especially not thrilled to have to be working with Kara. She had destroyed his best friend and made it clear that she felt she was above anything Lantern’s Cove had to offer, most especially him. But as the case heats up he finds out he has a clear personal stake in what is happening. He and Kara’s one night resulted in a daughter – a daughter he may never have the chance to know thanks to the Baby Sitter. As he and Kara work against the clock they find themselves drawn together in shared pain – and shared love. Can he and Kara outwit the killer and reunite with their daughter, becoming the family he has always dreamed of?
Surprisingly, Ms. Van Meter convinced me Kara had a legitimate reason for the secret baby gimmick. Given how everyone felt about Kara, how she was likely to hurt several people by letting them know she had Matt’s baby, and the terms on which she and Matt had parted, I thought it made sense for her to not have told him about the pregnancy. Matt’s reaction definitely showed why this is always a controversial – and painful – choice, but I did understand why the choice was made and the author definitely gets points for that.
She needs those points because pretty much everything else about the story I found distracting and detracting. I couldn’t believe how Kara and Matt were essentially bonding over their daughter’s potential grave. Having children myself, I can assure you that I would barely notice the people around me if my kids were in danger, unless said people had something useful to contribute to my search. Kisses followed by sex wouldn’t be on the agenda. In the case of this book especially I felt that there were entire portions where Matt and Kara seemed to forget Brianna entirely. For a supposedly loving mother and a father intent upon meeting his missing daughter, this rang entirely untrue.
Additionally, Kara had been Matt’s best friend Neal’s girlfriend. That happens, especially at the age everyone was when the one night occurred. But Kara seemed to take the lion’s share of the blame for her and Matt’s encounter. Additionally, now that Neal was dead, effectively moving him out of the picture, the author went on to trash him and turned him into the eeeevvvviiillll ex. Everyone but Matt, Neal’s doting parents, and Kara knew this of course. It wasn’t necessary and took up page space that could have been better used for developing the plot or the relationship. Talk about a pet peeve, there is nothing like trashing the ex to the point where they were all but a slobbering baby killer to get me riled up.
One final point that is really more a tiny cavil than complaint is the name of the killer. Very distracting. In the book, the characters blame it on the press, saying catch phrases like “the Babysitter” sell papers. Probably true, but an author has complete control over her world and could have done what the police do and simply called him/her the unsub, suspect or killer. Having law enforcement use the catchy name seemed a touch cutesy for me.
The author is certainly not a bad writer, but in the end I just really struggled with the story and characterizations. It is definitely not an awful book, but there is a lot out there in the suspense realm that outshines it.