Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware by Cristyn West

04 Oct

Plain JanePlain Jane by Cristyn West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Nicole Usher is desperate. A serial killer is stalking women and has killed over a dozen. These women are special to the killer but Nicole and the rest of her department cannot determine why and have no way of stopping the killings. The killer likes brunettes. Plain, shy and unassuming brunettes are stalked then mutilated for a trophy the killer covets.
No one can know the mind of a killer, unless you are a genius profiler with a talent for doing just that.
Nicole knows that Kent Harbinger can help catch the killer and despite a tragic history she shares with him, she calls him to help.
Kent Harbinger seems as twisted as the killers he catches and although he is ranked as one of the top FBI profilers, his unconventional techniques have rewarded him a long-term stay at an asylum.
His presence in the investigation creates pain for Nicole and resentment in Nicole’s partner and lover but despite this she knows there is no other way.
Kent is the key character in this story despite the fact that Nicole is written in as the protagonist. His method of hunting the same victims as the killer helps him to guess the next target but he seems as mad as the killer. Stealing whatever he needs, breaking into buildings and stalking women are only some of the acts Kent commits during the investigation and Nicole is left to answer for him to her captain and partner. Kent seems to have no conscience and treats Nicole with apathy to the point that the reader cannot fathom a previous romantic relationship between the two.
I hated him and wavered on whether to give this story a three of four star rating. The author pushes the envelope on what the reader will accept in a main character who is supposedly on the side of good and I struggled with this.
Then I remembered something important. The best thing an author has ever done for me as a reader was to make me feel. To create emotion, good or bad, as I immerse myself in their creation. I was immersed in Plain Jane. I wanted the characters to do MY will and when they didn’t the author forced me to understand why. What does it take to get into the mind of a killer? What must you become if you want to catch what most don’t understand?
Ms. West caught me off-guard and that doesn’t happen to me often.

If you enjoyed Silence of the Lambs or the work of Jeffrey Deaver, you will enjoy Plain Jane.

View all my reviews


2 responses to “Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware by Cristyn West

  1. Irving Podolsky

    October 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    There’s a good point you made here about having an emotional response to a main character. As a writer myself I can tell you that one of the primary challenges of making a story work is creating a character that readers CARE about. I used to believe that meant making the hero LIKABLE. But that isn’t always the case or should it be.

    As you explain in your review, Cristyn West captured your interest about Kent and added to your understanding of human nature. That’s a big deal.

    I don’t read this genre but your review suggests there is much to lean about writing from it’s characterization and technique.


  2. novelopinion

    October 30, 2012 at 6:31 am

    It’s amazing how your interests can expand as a reader when you open yourself to what the writer is trying to do. We tend to steer toward books in our comfort/pleasure zone where we can pretty much predict the outcome but limit ourselves so much.
    Thanks for your insightful comment! Tammy


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