When the body of a woman is found in rural Virginia, the victim tortured and the body obviously staged, the FBI realizes it has a serial killer on the loose. FBI Special Agent Bill Jeffreys has seen this killer’s work before, and he knows that there’s only one agent in the bureau capable enough to find this sadistic killer, his partner, Riley Paige. But, Paige, is on leave, recuperating from her last case, where in the process of saving the victim of another vicious killer, she was captured and almost killed herself.
Paige, realizing that she must get back into the field if she is to overcome her trauma, joins in the hunt for a killer who will certainly kill again if not caught—and, in fact, does.
Once Gone by Blake Pierce is a not only the killer, but his motives, at the same time that she must deal with her own inner demons taut psychological drama that follows Paige as she uses her considerable profiling skills to identify and the deterioration of her family.
Interesting side trips take the reader into the mind of the killer as he stalks his victims, while tracking Paige as she step-by-step zeroes in on him. This is the first book in a planned series, and it introduces an interesting main character; a crack investigator who has to overcome inner and interpersonal conflict in order to succeed. The writing is a bit rough in patches, in particular the overuse of character names, but the plotting and pace are about right for the story. The author plays fair with the use of clues, and includes the occasional misstep to keep things interesting, and the main character’s weaknesses—she’s suffering from PTSD as a result of her last case, and therefore plagued with doubt—makes for interesting reading.
I predict that the writing, which is not really all that bad, will improve dramatically as this series matures. I give it three stars.
I received this book as a gift.