Review

The Killing Hour

by Lisa Gardner



My brother refers to me as "The Great Indoorsman." I take that as a
compliment. My idea of camping is a room at Embassy Suites that
doesn't carry BET, GAC or FNC on the cable and doesn't have a CD
player in the room. Nature? That would be the strip between the
parking lot and the hotel entrance. Hiking? The walk from the front
desk to the room. Nope. Not into the outdoors.

The reason is simple: spiders. Try walking more than 20 yards into
the woods or forest without bumping into a web and its builder. No,
I'm not into it. And even though Lisa Gardner mentions nary an
arachnid in her latest novel, THE KILLING HOUR, you have to know
that they're there, just an inch or two off the page, as she leads
you deeper and deeper off the beaten path and into rural Virginia.
I'm glad she didn't bring them up; if this story had any more
suspense, the book jacket would need a warning label affixed to
it.

THE KILLING HOUR may remind you, very vaguely, of THE SILENCE OF
THE LAMBS, but that is only because both books feature an
overachieving female FBI recruit as the primary character. What is
more significant for fans of Lisa Gardner, however, is that THE
KILLING HOUR is a sequel of sorts to THE NEXT ACCIDENT. Kimberly
Quincy, who survived the events of that fine book, is now at the
FBI Academy and is causing a bit of a stir --- for all the wrong
reasons. While she technically shows all of the makings of a fine
agent, her people skills leave much to be desired. When Kimberly
stumbles upon the body of a murder victim, literally at the back
doorstep of the FBI's Quantico, Virginia headquarters, it has
repercussions, not only for her but also for her father, Pierce
Quincy, and his business partner and lover Rainie Conner. Pierce
Quincy, a former FBI profiler, and Conner are brought into the case
as consultants.

It is soon established, however, that the murder has similarities
to a series of killings that took place several years before in
Georgia. The Georgia murders involved a fiend who would kidnap
pairs of young women and leave the body of one in a place where it
would be discovered quickly, while leaving the other alive, but in
a place of great peril. The murderer would leave clues to the
location of the second victim with the first. There were eight
victims...and then the kidnappings and the murders stopped. It now
appears, however, that the murderer has changed location and begun
again, only this time he has upped the ante.

Special Agent Michael McCormack, who tried unsuccessfully to solve
the first series of murders, is drawn back into the investigation
--- and incidentally, to Kimberly --- by a mysterious contact who
seems to know what the killer will do, and when. The trail
ultimately leads to a desperate and cataclysmic confrontation in
Virginia's Dismal Swamp --- where nature can be more dangerous than
any human killer.

Gardner sets up some interesting internal tension right out of the
gate, giving the reader a protagonist that the reader can't quite
like but sympathizes with nonetheless. Gardner doesn't pile the
suspense on all at once, but adds to it gradually --- a murder
here, a mystery there, a personal conflict or two --- until by the
end of the book the reader feels like a bunch of raw nerves racing
for the comfort of the finish line.

Gardner is a fine writer who gets better with every novel, and by
changing the focus of each book among a cast of occasionally
recurring characters --- Rainie Conner in THE THIRD VICTIM, Pierce
Quincy in THE NEXT ACCIDENT, and now Kimberly Quincy in THE KILLING
HOUR --- she lends an air of familiarity to each new novel while
keeping her stories original and fresh. She will undoubtedly
continue to be an author whose future novels will be eagerly
anticipated.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Killing Hour
by Lisa Gardner

  • Publication Date: September 28, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553584529
  • ISBN-13: 9780553584523