A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.
Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.
The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.
Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.
Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?
Meg Gardiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen thrillers. Heat 2, her latest novel, is a prequel/sequel to the film Heat, co-authored with the film’s writer/director, Michael Mann. Booklist’s starred review calls it “Riveting… the fully fleshed human stories support and even transcend the often-breathtaking action.” The Associated Press says, “Slick as a Neil McCauley heist and as intense as a Vincent Hanna chase, ‘Heat 2’ is just dynamite.” It debuted at #1 on the NYT best seller list.
UNSUB, the first novel in her series featuring FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, won the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller. The Dark Corners of the Night, the most recent UNSUB thriller, was bought by Amazon Studios for development as an hour-long television drama.
Meg is the author of the Evan Delaney series, the Jo Beckett novels, and several stand alones. China Lake won the 2009 Edgar award for Best Paperback Original. The Nightmare Thief won the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense audiobook of the year. Phantom Instinct was one of O, the Oprah magazine's "Best Books of Summer."
Meg was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She's also a three-time Jeopardy! champion. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Most of the time, when a popular book has been hyped to kingdom come, it ends up being at least slightly disappointing to the readers who weren't able to go into the story prior to it being splashed everywhere. Whether it's because the story just wasn't great or it became so built up in your mind that nothing could possibly live up to that kind of standard, it makes readers who consume high quantities of fiction nervous and standoffish. But sometimes, every so often, the fandom has it completely right and, not only does the book live up to your expectations, it exceeds them. It's been a long time since this has happened for me, but UNSUB definitely fits the bill. I stayed away from this one for roughly a year because I was so worried about the hype train and now I'm kicking myself in the face for avoiding such a well-written, exciting, and memorable serial killer thriller. I adore the cover and found it ties nicely into the storyline for those, like me, who care about that sort of thing. Meg Gardiner has that style of writing that makes you feel comfortable; there's nothing proper about it and picking up her books is the equivalent of meeting up at a dive bar, buying a round of beer, and catching up on life.
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." -Friedrich Nietzsche
The beauty of serial killer fan fiction is it holds a firm model of how the story should flow but also allows for fine tuning and personalization of the narrative to give it that unique touch. Here we have inspiration from the never captured nor identified Zodiac Killer, and I love how our killer wasn't meant to BE him, but almost inspired BY him in the plot. The story mentions Zodiac and makes comparisons between his and The Prophet's motives, signatures, etc. to give the book a more grounded aspect. This wasn't just another spinoff of Criminal Minds, but an inspired read that gives you that hazy feeling of being caught between truth and fiction. If you anticipate your crime fiction to have over the top action but still feel realistic, you should definitely pick this one up.
She opened her eyes and turned to see it. To prove to herself that it was real. That same symbol, pounded another victim's flesh. His symbol. His madness. The Prophet.
Obviously this book is extremely graphic and disturbing, so it won't be for everyone, but thanks to my Aunt Janet I developed a love of these types of books early on in adulthood and can't seem to get enough of them. I've always been fascinated with psychopaths and wanted to know so many things about them. What makes them tick? Why are they so demented? What determines if a person develops the feelings that make us human or if those characteristics never form? This type of thought pattern has also ensured that the books I read aren't just blood, guts, and shock value; I need characters who are flawed, wounded, and resilient. I need a protagonist who is barely hanging on by a thread, yet throws everything they have into bringing this kind of evil to an end. <--- This is precisely what I found in this book and I cannot express how wonderful it was! When a thriller is on point with it's plot AND characterization, count me in.
This was going to break in the next few minutes. Mack deserved to hear it from her. She breathed. "We know who he is," she said. Mack stilled like a spike driven into the ground... She waited for him to react. His gaze lengthened beyond the horizon. Then his face crumpled. And his knees.
I don't want to give away too much, but this book had some nice twists and turns. Not the kind that work up to one, major shocker that the book depends on for entertainment, but lots of smaller ones that I didn't see coming. The ending was a jaw dropper and I for one am glad I have the next book in the series, Into The Black Nowhere on hand so that I can figure out just what the fudge will happen! *Insert Macauley Culkin Home Alone face here.* If you enjoy dark crime fiction thrillers and can stomach the grotesque beauty of this one, you NEED to pick up Unsub. Then go ahead and pre-order Into The Black Nowhere, because you'll NEED that one too. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be in the same room as Queen Meg Gardiner and I can buy her that beer after all. <3
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.
Don't mind me...just waiting for my pulse to get back to normal.
When one of your absolute favorite crime writers continually waxes poetic about how incredible a book is, you probably should listen. So I have Don Winslow to thank for recommending the amazing UNSUB by Meg Gardiner.
This is a book that has my heart pounding and my pulse racing, and I very well might wind up with nightmares (this is why I stopped watching shows like Criminal Minds on television), but holy crap, was it worth the ride. (P.S.: If you haven't read Winslow's The Force—see my original review—you MUST.)
Like many families in the Bay Area in the 1990s, Caitlin Hendrix's family was wracked with fear about a highly intelligent, immensely dangerous serial killer called The Prophet, whose gruesome, graphic murders had everyone on edge. But Caitlin's family was different, as her father Mack was the lead detective trying to stop the Prophet from his ritual killings. All told, eleven people were murdered, each one more horrifying than the next, and each left with the ancient sign of Mercury somehow etched on them. The strain of trying to catch the Prophet broke Mack, destroyed his career and his marriage, and wrecked Caitlin's childhood.
"Caitlin could still recite the Prophet's profile from memory, almost word for word. Organized killer. Regards the murders as his mission. Extrovert. Has social skills and may be regarded as charming and outgoing. Incredible anger at women. He will show the dark tetrad of personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism."
After 20 years' silence, the Prophet returns with a vengeance. Caitlin, a detective with only six months under her belt, is brought on to the task force assembled to try and succeed where Mack and his colleagues failed. But this time around, the Prophet is bolder, showier, and even more cold-blooded. And he has his sights set on Caitlin, to draw her in and break her the same way he broke her father all those years ago.
As much as she is cautioned by her superiors, her boyfriend, even her father, not to lose herself in the Prophet's hellish mission, her carefully constructed barrier starts to fall. Finding the Prophet becomes a personal quest for Caitlin because he has made his wrath so personal against her. He wants to make her look like a fool, and then crush her with her failures.
The Prophet taunts law enforcement with his gruesome murders and his messages. What do they mean? Why is he escalating his destruction? Where was he for more than 20 years? Is this really the Prophet or simply a copycat? They are running out of time before this monster truly closes in—but will Caitlin succeed where her father failed? And if so, at what price?
Gardiner starts with a bang and never lets up for nearly 400 pages. She toys with her readers much like the Prophet did with law enforcement, teasing out some of the facts while confounding and frustrating you at the same time. Caitlin is a fantastic character—while she feels the weight of the victims (and her father's legacy) on her shoulders, she definitely doesn't think she's a superwoman; she just needs to make this monster stop, while figuring out what makes him tick.
This is more than simply a thriller. Gardiner imbues her story with heart and emotion at the same time as she's ratcheting your pulse up with suspense and some terrific action. Some of the murders are pretty heinous, but not worse than most thrillers or a few episodes of Criminal Minds or Law & Order: SVU. I just love the way she told this story, and I certainly can see why Winslow raved about it.
One of my frustrations with thrillers is when the killer is always one inexplicable step ahead of those hunting them down. That frustration bubbled up briefly here, but I like how Gardiner got around it, although one plot device seemed a tiny bit contrived. But nothing could stop me from devouring this book. I'm a newcomer to Gardiner's writing, but this won't be the last of her books I read. She's one hell of a writer, and this is such an excellent book.
In closing, I say to Don Winslow: thank you. And now I'll definitely listen to you in the future!
Yay--it lived up to the hype! And WOW--that ending!
UNSUB is a psychological thriller about a notorious serial killer who after 20 years of silence begins killing once again.
The Zodiac Killer, aka The Prophet, terrorized residents of the East Bay for several years in the 1990’s, committing murders and using the victim’s bodies to create heinous public displays for all to see. The case of the Zodiac Killer drove the lead homicide detective, Mack Hendrix, mad, causing him to attempt suicide. 20 years after the last Zodiac murder, it seems that the killer is back on the scene killing once again. Is it the true Zodiac Killer or is there a copycat serial murder on the loose?
Caitlin Hendrix, daughter of Mack, a narcotics detective, joins the homicide team in to help finally bring the down the Zodiac Killer. Shortly after, Caitlin is drawn into a game of cat and mouse with the killer, putting herself in grave danger. Will she become her father and lose her sanity like her father did over or will she persevere and bring down the killer
Reading UNSUB was a heart-stopping, skin crawling, heart pounding experience! I had to stop and catch my breath several times--the final 20% had me in a frenzy! I almost couldn’t take it and had to put the book down several times--not only because I was concerned for the characters, but also because I couldn’t take the violence. Outside of the violence, I enjoyed almost everything else about it. It’s fast-paced, Caitlin is easy to root for, and there are some surprising twists and turns. I cannot wait to see how events play out in book two!
20 years ago, Caitlin’s father was lead detective on a serial killer case in California. The murderer, known as the Unsub, or as others referred to him as Prophet, got away. Leaving Caitlin’s father, and in fact her whole family, in utter shambles.
Now just to add salt to the wounds, the killings have begun again. Caitlin, grown up and a member of the police force herself, transfers to the homicide unit to assist in the reopened case. After all, who would know the dark inner-workings better than the lead detectives’ own daughter.
Make no mistake. It’s personal now, for Caitlin and the Prophet!
Action-packed with a nail biting finish! As Caitlin relentlessly runs down the clues in her pursuit of the Prophet. Her character displays both toughness and tenacity as she takes on the investigation. But we also get a glimpse of her softer side with her boyfriend Sean and his daughter. All the while remaining laser-focused on putting the pieces of her relationship with her father back together.
My only negative is that for someone new to the Homicide department, (just her first case) she was running the entire investigation. Giving direction and commands to senior officers. Hmmm....
I’ve been reading more books involving serial killers this year than ever before (Must be a new trend). This one stands up with the best of them. It was my first book by Meg Gardner - though I own a few of her other series books. I look forward to book 2 in this new series Into the Black Nowhere, due to be released January 30th 2018!
For those of you who loved Shadow Man. Here is another one that is just as intense!
This book is just so Awesome! It ROCKED on and on! I finished this book three hours ago and my heart is still pounding. I had to put this book down many times because it was so horrifying. It is a very dark intense crime thriller that just made #1 on my reading list for this year. It is a winner. It is so gritty, disturbing and dark. The serial killer who calls himself ,The Prophet, was just as evil as the serial killer in Shadow Man! This was such an intense read. I had to pry my hands off this book after I read it and had hand cramps from me gripping this book so tight. Haha!
The character Caitlin Hendrix is a bad ass police detective just like Smoky Barrett. She was an awesome character. I also loved her Dad and her boyfriend Sean. The characters were done so well and were so realistic.
I am not even going to give you the plot of this book. You are just going to have to read it. I don't want to spoil it for you. This book just grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go until the very end. Wow! I just did not have enough stars to give out for this one. The author has the ability to get into your head and keep you thinking about the story long after you have finished the book. I can keep on going on and on about how much I loved this book. This book is my all time favorite book along with the book Shadow Man. I am so excited about this book and can't wait to read the second book in this series.
I definitely recommend this book highly. I love this author and loved Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney Series. I will be reading more of her books, every single one of hers because I can not get enough. I want more!!!!
Caitlin Hendrix has been a narcotics detective for six months when the Prophet, a serial killer who terrorized the Bay area in the 1990's and whom her father failed to apprehend, begins to kill again. Her father, Mark, hunted the Prophet, who completed ritualistic killers, gave cryptic messages, and mind games, until his life began to fall apart. The killer etched the sign of mercury on all his victim’s skin. Why? How are his victims connected? Are they connected?
Almost twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the Prophet's sign for Mercury. He is back! Why now? Where has he been all this time? What is his end game? The stakes are high as more bodies are found and Caitlin finds herself getting deeper and deeper in the investigations as the Prophet appears to be getting under her skin. Caitlin is determined to stop the Prophet even if it means putting herself in danger. Anyone notice how she jumped from Narcotics to homicide to homicide lead detective in a blink of an eye?
This book is a mesmerizing look at evil. It is a page turner filled with psychological suspense, danger, mystery, and a vicious killer who manages to always be a step ahead of the police. If you enjoy smart police procedural(s), books with psychological suspense, a little gore, likable characters, a mesmerizing killer and great writing this book is for you. This book is enjoyable from beginning to end - there were no dull parts, nothing lagged, nothing felt rushed. This book evoked a feeling of dread and anxiety. Would Caitlin find the killer? Will she be too late? OH man!!! The Suspense!!! I loved every second of it. I love books that have me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next. Meg Gardiner brought the thrills to this one!
This was my first book by Meg Gardiner and it will not be my last! I'm hooked!!!
This book was inspired by the real-life zodiac killings where the killer was never brought to justice. In some counties in Northern California the case remains open.
Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
OMG – My heart is Still in my throat, My nerves are Still jangled and my stomach is Still in knots. UNSUB is a suspense novel for the record books my friends - this is a novel that keeps you on your toes from the very first. My heart started pounding almost immediately and once I hit the ¾ mark – it didn’t stop till the wild end.
Caitlin Hendrix is a detective who works in the narcotics unit. Her dad, Mack used to be a detective before her. Unfortunately, for Mack, during his investigation into the serial killer, the Prophet, his career took a nosedive. It has now been 20 years since the Prophet terrorized San Francisco and everyone assumed he was gone.
Detective Caitlin Hendrix is then called to a murder scene where two bodies are found brutally murdered and though it appears impossible, she immediately recognizes the murderer’s signature: The Prophet has returned. From then on, Detective Caitlin Hendrix works Homicide. This time around, the Prophet’s acts are even more grotesque and heinous than ever before and he’s not just haunting Caitlin, he’s hunting her.
UNSUB by Meg Gardiner is literally one of the best psychological thrillers I can ever remember reading. The crazy quick pacing, the storyline that made my heart catch in my throat. Everything. In addition, the characters are so real, they jumped off the page in a way that made me feel as though I was right there with them every second of the way – so much so that my pulse was racing wicked fast and I was completely spent by the time I got to the crazy terrifying finish. This is a suspense novel I highly recommend (in case it wasn’t obvious).
This was a sister read with Brenda. So glad we read this one together! I might have been a little scared if I had to read this one on my own! Lol.
Published on Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram on 2.7.18.
UNSUB by Meg Gardiner is a 2017 Dutton publication.
Solid, intricately plotted, and smart serial killer crime thriller-
Confession: This is, to my knowledge, the first book I’ve read by this author. I see she has a healthy back list, and I wasn’t unfamiliar with her, but for some reason, which was not at all intentional, I just never got around to trying one her novels.
But, when several Goodreads friends left some very positive reviews for this book, and since it was the first book in a new series, I felt like now was the time to introduce myself to Meg Gardiner.
Like the infamous San Francisco serial killer, ‘The Zodiac’- ‘The Prophet’ went on five year killing spree, but then suddenly stopped. The case went cold, but it left detective Mack Hendrix a shell of the man he once was.
Now, his daughter, Caitlin, who is working her way up the law enforcement ladder, finds herself promoted to homicide when it appears that after a twenty-year absence, ‘The Prophet’ is back… with a vengeance.
It's been a long while since I read a traditional ‘serial killer’ crime novel, and this one caught my attention because it made reference to ‘The Zodiac’, which creeped me out, maybe more than any other serial killer case, because no one was ever arrested, and for years, an uneasiness simmered in SF, with residents wondering if the killer was dead or alive - or if he might come out of hiding when least expected.
So, a setup which features a diabolical serial killer who reemerges after a lengthy silence, was too good to pass up.
The novel seemed to follow a well- worn path along ' procedural avenue', until it steadily morphed into a very smart, very detailed, and atmospheric thriller which puts a fresh spin on an old familiar trope.
As with any thriller in which a serial killer is at work, the crime scenes are graphic, and not for the faint of heart. But, if you are thinking about some deranged, sicko, lunatic with the tried and true profile, thing again. This is not your usual baddie, not by a long shot.
The only drawback is the slick and polished sheen that hints at ‘being shopped for TV’ feel to it. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I hope it won't lead this series into becoming a watered down ‘formula’ read, which I would hate to see happen after such a strong beginning.
I prefer to keep it dark, gritty, and realistically creepy. I’m fairly jaded in the first place, so I hope the momentum this book creates will not be all for naught.
While there are some weak moments, overall this novel was cleverly crafted, with expedient and hair-raising twists, and a stunning conclusion that will segue nicely into the next installment.
I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for review.
You know a book is in trouble when it’s about a crazy maniac slaughtering people left and right, but you find yourself yawning a lot while reading it.
Back in the 1990s a brutal serial killer known as the Prophet terrorized the San Francisco area, and Detective Mack Hendrix was unable to catch him. Hendrix’s obsession with the case eventually destroyed his career and his family, but his daughter, Caitlin, has grown up to be a cop despite seeing what happened to him. Now the Prophet is back again, and Caitlin is on the team trying to find him despite Mack’s warning that she should stay away from the whole mess.
Familiar is the word that best described this book for me because almost every aspect of it seems drawn from other works. The whole thing about detectives having to think like a madman to catch one at the risk of their own sanity is straight out of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. A young lady detective driven by the tragic fate of her cop father to track down a terrifying bad guy is from that other Harris novel Silence of the Lambs which also got turned into a movie you may have heard of. The elaborate ritualistic killings as punishment are pure John Doe in the film Seven including both bad guys having the same source of inspiration. David Fincher comes up again because he also directed the excellent Zodiac based on the real unsolved case, and that was obviously another big element with a killer who terrorized the Bay Area and loved the limelight. (To be fair, the book was drawing from actual events so similarities between this and Fincher’s movie may just be from them both using the same true crime case, but it still seems like the film was a huge influence on it.)
A serial killer story is almost inevitably going to incorporate some tropes just as any other genre work will so it’s not a cardinal sin if you’re reminded of something else while reading one, but unfortunately that’s all this book did for me. It never seemed to have anything new or original to say, and the clichés piled up fast.
It’s all stuff we’ve read and seen in the works I cited before as well as countless others, and what it boils down to is that it’s just another bland lead character with a troubled past trying to track down a murderous Insane McGenius who is constantly a step ahead of the cops and whose intricate schemes that depend on perfect timing almost always play out exactly as planned. I was also supremely angered by the ending which employs one of my least favorite plot twists.
It’s disappointing because I’ve heard good things about Meg Gardiner, and I had high hopes for this. The writing is decent enough to keep it from being complete trash, but it’s just a generic serial killer thriller that runs over the same old worn ground. Most of her effort seemed to have been centered on coming with all kinds of gruesomely elaborate ways to murder someone, but again, Seven did it first and better.
I'm not surprised to see that it’s been bought by CBS as the basis for a potential TV series because it seems exactly like what their brand is built on in the form of a procedural crime story we’ve all seen a thousand times before.
UNSUB is an intelligent, engaging, and gruesome fast-paced read that took us and Caitlin on a race against time for a killer that destroyed her father’s career and health and now the killer has his eyes set on Caitlin. Meg Gardiner does a great job balancing a crime and the personal life here with fascinating and ambitious Caitlin. She is haunted by her father’s failure to capture the killer 20 years ago and searches to stop him and to redeem herself and her father. I connected so well and was engaged in Caitlin personal relationships with her father and her boyfriend Sean and loved the dynamics between them.
I raced against time along with Caitlin turning those pages as fast as I could trying to escape from the brutal acts of this terrifying killer. The tension rises and I was pulled more into the story with each page only stopping when life demanded my attention. As soon as I closed this one and Susanne and Kaceey could get their hands on Into The Dark Nowhere we were lost in the coulee again reading it.
"An attempt to categorize unremitting hell. But hell couldn't be contained. It was the ultimate cold case."
And a cold case that sat in sealed boxes festering like tainted putrid waters for twenty years. Folder upon folder in testament to the demented works of The Prophet.....a relentless serial killer with no soul who hovered in the San Francisco Bay area.
Oh, did I mention?......He's back.
Just ask Detective Caitlin Hendrix who has recently left narcotics to work in homicide. She knows only too well the victims of his earlier rampage. One of them was her own father, Mack, who dogged The Prophet as the assigned detective in the early years of the case. He paid a great price for his diligence. The stakes were high with a pay-out in his mental and physical health.
Like father, like daughter. Caitlin's antenna is raised in high alert when two bodies are found recently with the exact markings used by The Prophet back then in the 1990's. We watch as Caitlin's hesitation comes to the surface. Mack is the ultimate expert when it comes to this cold case crime, but stirring up emotionally charged memories is the last thing she wishes to do. And yet without his valuable input, this case will never be solved. It's just a matter of time before the number of victims ratchets up.
Whoa! Meg Gardiner lines up her characters, sporatically, playing off one another like banking shots in a pinball arcade. No matter how focused you are, something will always go awry. Steady hands are never a guarantee when you're on the trail of a horrific killer. The Prophet leaves poetic messages that taunt Caitlin. It will take an especially analytical mind to step forward and lean into the winds of these horrendous crimes.
This was my first Meg Gardiner book. Be forwarned that she doesn't hold back when it comes to crime scenes. The last few chapters are riveting and so worth the price of admission. I'm already on the wait list at the library for the new one. After this rough ride on Thrill-o-rama Mountain, I'm up for the next.
No rating for this one due to personal reasons. I DNFed it last night but I had less than 100 pages to go so I just powered through this morning.
One sentence review: Criminal Minds, but make it a fictional novel
The Prophet is back and it's up to Caitlin Hendrix to stop what her father, the lead detective on the original case, failed to do.
Lol. So, I'm not rating this because of this lil racist razzle dazzle: "The kid is just a kid. Chinese, or Korean maybe. But American." And to answer your questions: no, the kid is not a significant character whatsoever. No, this was not dialogue used to demonstrate another character's narrow-mindedness. Yes, this was 100% unnecessary. This book was published in 2017 with a Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Randomhouse. This is a total failure on the editor's behalf to let this slip through, especially when it has ZEROOOOO bearing on the story or context for that matter. Sorry, but I've heard enough "jokes" in my lifetime that "all Asians look the same." Thank you, next.
Anyways, if you're look for a book with OTT Criminal Minds drama that gives you nothing emotionally, doesn't develop or flush out any character backstories (which for a series debut is odd), or have an overarching themes/greater messages, THIS IS FOR YOU. And this isn't shade. Different strokes for different folks. However, I like my drivel to at least have one extra layer to it. This is a case where I'd rather just turn on the TV to get the full impact in 30/60 mins, than slog through a book for hours.
And because this book was giving me NOTHING else but TV-worthy dramaction (drama + action), all I could think of was the mechanics of The Prophet's attacks and how unrealistic they were. See, I don't get caught up in these details when watching TV because my other senses are stimulated. But when it comes to a book, where the reader has to do the heavy lifting with their imagination, I couldn't figure out how tf this mans (or woman... no spoilies lol) k!lled and then transported a car-full worth of crows and then somehow sourced a random assortment of doll heads to shove onto the crows before sticking them in the victim's car. And then how did he rig the victim's cell phone so quickly?
I know, I know, yeetage of disbelief, but again, since this book was serving up absolutely nothing else, it was all my swiss cheese brain could focus on. Recently I read Ragdoll, which also required yeetage of disbelief, but since there was solid character development/backstories, conflict, and an overarching theme/message, I had other things to think about. Does this make sense? Probably not. Welcome to my brain.
Anyways, another insignificant line that I couldn't get past was: "The lid popped off and coffee slurped onto my shirt." HUH??? Slurped... onto my shirt???? Sorry, did I miss that slurp can also mean splash? I am confusion. Again, editor, where art thou? This was a case of where I was so shook by such a simple mistake, I second guessed myself and looked it up in the dictionary. It's kinda like when you're taking a math test and use your calculator to make sure 7+7 is indeed 14 LOL.
Again, if you're looking for a mindless read full of dramaction, this is the one for you. And if you're not really into police procedurals, no worries. This is pretty much a citizen gone rogue masquerading as a detective.
UNSUB is, by far, my new favourite novel by the Queen, Meg Gardiner.
It takes elements from famous serial killers, both real and fictional, and boils it down into one epic, smart and intricate serial killer crime thriller.
Obviously inspired by the Zodiac's crimes, this novel also take elements from things like Se7en, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Untraceable... and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head, though I am sure there are more.
Some people might hate this, and I can understand why if it reminds you too much of the works it is inspired by, but to me, Gardiner brought together all of my favourite dark and twisty things and she did it in a way that rang as unique, not lifted.
And, honestly, it seems like Gardiner and I have the same taste in entertainment so like, obviously we're meant to be BFFs and watch scary movies together in our jammies. Hit me up, gurl! I know how to French braid!
Nothing in the writing is overwrought and it finds the perfect balance with detail and description. And somehow through all the action and procedural elements, you still get a perfect feel for the characters. They are tangible and emotional, which really amps up the drama all around.
Caitlin is badass but emotional, making her a new favourite female lead of mine with her realness and her ability to play with the big boys, even though she's technically a rookie. Her relationship with her father didn't suffocate the paragraphs, but the tension created by each short interaction and conversation brought their personal demons to life. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Sean, was also perfectly drawn. Just the right amount of love to bring some light to the overall dark tone of the novel.
Gritty, gory and twisty, this is a page-turner with a plot that is always ramping up the suspense and tension. You get just enough backstory, emotional drama and moments of levity that create a very human experience set around a fantastical killer with ridiculous motives and murder tableaus.
4.5 Stars UNSUB by Meg Gardiner is a deep, twisted, and evil psychological thriller that was inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer who destroyed a young detective’s family, and terrorized California’s Bay Area in the late 1960s.
He calls himself “The Prophet" and he is back in the area to continue killing and tormenting the police with his cryptic messages. But this time “The Prophet” has focused all his attention on Detective Caitlin Hendrix, the daughter of Detective Mack Hendrix, who worked the case all those years ago. This grueling case landed Mack in a psychiatric hospital for 6 months due to a mental breakdown, destroyed his marriage, and sent him into early retirement from the police department. Will Caitlin take down “The Prophet” for good, or will she have a mental breakdown just like her father?
This story was emotional, riveting and disturbing! This is a story that will stay with you and make you more aware of your surroundings. You might even find yourself checking your doors and windows at night. I am already looking forward to the next book in this new series!
*I want to thank NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
So, I have been seeing Unsub and Into the Black Nowhere (Jan 30) on my feed. And I mean A LOT. I have not read anything by Meg Gardiner but that will change! What a thrilling ride! I could NOT stop reading this. I’m pretty sure my kid took a 1.5hr (maybe 2) bath while I read non stop. (She’s 5, I was sitting on the floor, she knows how to swim, and she had a grand time, don’t raise your eyebrows!). It was that good!
Caitlin Hendrix is a bad ass bitch and I loved her. She is six months into a narcotics position when her childhood nightmare returns. Her father, Mack, a retired detective worked the case of The Prophet twenty years ago. Now, when Caitlin is called to a scene that looks like The Prophet returned she wants in on the case.
As Caitlin and her team work on the case The Prophet seems ten steps ahead of them. He is getting worse and worse. They are unsure if this is THE Prophet from twenty years ago or if it’s a copy cat.
Unsub is action packed and I was NEVER bored. By the end I was reading so fast that I had to back to just to read it again. This book is chilling, the scenes a little dark and towards the end I had anxiety ha. The ending... omg. Where is book two?!
I’d like to point out Caitlin’s relationship with Sean. The romance was perfect, I liked them together and it wasn’t over the top. They support and care for each other. I love that the author gave us a little bit of them and a lot more to the mystery.
The scenes were a bit graphic but I like it dark. This is 5 star thriller for me and I can’t WAIT for Into the Black Nowhere! Highly recommended! Well done, Meg!
4.5 stars!! I went into this book hoping to keep my expectations low and just enjoy it. I saw the hype last year with UNSUB and this is a favorite genre for me. *fingers crossed*
Well, it was worth the hype in my opinion!
This is a tense, fast paced crime detective thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat! I read it in 2-3 days and I just couldn’t put the book down.
UNSUB starts off with the main character of Caitlin Hendrix as a kid. She watches how the Prophet destroys her father’s sanity and his personal relationships. He’s obsessed over the serial killer and her father, Mack Hendrix was the lead detective when the Prophet was targeting multiple, random people in the San Francisco area in the 1990s. The serial killer would kill in ritual-like settings and then sign the kill with the symbol of Mercury. The city of San Francisco and surrounding areas were on edge and scared to death. And then poof, the Prophet just goes away.
Fast forward to present day and Caitlin Hendrix is a narcotics detective, in a happy relationship with an ATF federal officer and seems to be doing well in life. She keeps an eye out on her Dad though since he went to the psyche ward when she was younger.
And then a double kill happens in the San Francisco area with the signature of the Prophet. Has the serial killer come back? Is this a copycat killer and what the hell is going on? The Prophet has been gone for over 20 years!
This was my first book by Meg Gardiner and it won’t be my last! I was surprised by how well this was written, how much I loved the main character of Caitlin and how gripping the book ended up being. Well done Gardiner!!!
I'm looking forward to reading the second book in this series! I'm not even mad at Meg Gardiner that I've got another series to follow. I enjoyed the 1st book that much! 😂😂
Yeah, it's like that. On the edge of your seat, a little freaked out, angry if anyone interrupts your reading, forgetting to feed yourself suspense.
This is the story of Caitlin, a cop, trying to catch a serial killer who just returned to his killy ways after a 25 year break. What was he doing for the past 25 years? Knitting sweaters for shelter dogs? Fighting whalers with Greenpeace? Learning Mandarin? Whatever it was, it sure must have frustrated him because he is pretty damn elaborate in his killings. He makes Hannibal Lector look like a hack. (see what I did there, hack? haha... sorry.)
No,no! We're cool, man. You're scary.
The thing is that Caitlin's father was the original detective on this case and it literally drove him insane. He is a shell of a man now and the cops want Caitlin to get his notes and thoughts on the serial killer from back in the day. Let's just say that bringing up the thing that drives someone to a mental breakdown doesn't exactly help their mental condition.
Me to kid: "say Mom one more time! I didn't hear the first 50."
This serial killer likes to play games with the cops and latches onto Caitlin, making it personal. She is trying NOT to follow in daddy's footsteps and become a raving lunatic. But, that's hard when this killer is burrowing into her brain.
Caitlin is likable and easy to relate to. The mystery itself is riveting and super fast-paced. The police procedural part of things is interesting. All together, this book really rocks. I think it would be a great movie if it ever got made into one.
The introduction of characters in the beginning was well done. Caitlin and her parents, and especially her relationship with her Dad, were very realistic. Even her relationship with boyfriend/ATF agent Sean was wonderful. Caitlin was with the Sheriff’s Department and assigned to a narcotics task force when her father’s nemesis began killing again after a 20-year absence. She asked to be assigned to homicide; her father told her to “stay the hell away from it.”
After the introductory chapters, the book took off much earlier than in some other thrillers I’ve read. This was a nice change! The pacing was good and the tension built up. The baddie in this book is really bad, and descriptions of crime scenes are gritty.
This was my first Meg Gardiner book, and I look forward to reading her other books.
Caitlin Hendrix’s childhood was almost ruined by a serial killer. Her father was the lead detective on the case that featured . . . .
“Eleven murders, all unsolved. An UNSUB: the unknown subject who would come to be called the Prophet. He made women stay home instead of going out alone. He made parents bring their children in before it got dark, and keep them inside. For five years, one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country lived in fear, dreading the next news bulletin. Waiting for the Prophet’s next victim. Until he disappeared.”
Caitlin’s father nearly lost his sanity as he was consumed by it. Now it’s twenty-five years later and Caitlin has followed in her father’s footsteps when it comes to her choice of career. Maybe more than even she bargained for . . . .
“All these years you thought I was gone. But hell and heaven turn and turn again. Angels fall, the messenger descends, your insolence is harrowed, defiance ends. You wail in fury, but the Equinox delivers pain. It batters like a hurricane. Tremble now—you cannot hide.”
This was a mixed bag when it came to friends' ratings so it kept getting pushed to the backburner. As you can see from my placeholder "review," the only thing that forced me into it was the library message which was the equivalent of a triple-dog dare. When it comes to mysteries, there are two types that I enjoy. These . . . .
(So much so that I call it the “S7ven Scale”)
Or these . . . .
Don’t judge me.
I will say I was a bit leery at the start when an “amateur sleuth” of sorts was introduced since this story obviously wasn’t trying to go in the Hallmark Mystery Channel direction. Luckily said sleuth wasn’t immediately deputized, but she did provide believable info that many people with too much spare time on their hands might find themselves trying to obtain so I quickly accepted her character. UNSUB lands at a solid 4 on the S7ven scale and was well on the way to a full 5 until the ending. Those endings – they can be tricky. You can either do a “WHAT’S IN THE BOX” last minute twist that makes everything oh so much better or you can do one like this . . . .
Still, a great story that I never once wanted to put down.
And now for a couple of public service announcements rants since I’m suffering a severe Case of the Mondays:
#1 Dear Goodreads: NO ONE wants a book automatically marked as “read” as soon as they turn the last page or the library takes it back. NO ONE. Stop the effing madness. Especially when it said I finished reading this THIS MORNING and the entire point of me even getting motivated to read the dang blasted thing was I only had Saturday, the 2nd, in which to start AND finish it . . . .
#2 Random Strangers on Social Media: It is December and several different “bookish” places are posting statuses (statii????) about Yearly Reading Challenges along with the magical goal of 100 books. NO ONE forces you to participate in them or that 100 books is a mandatory challenge goal, so take your “but I have a life” or “but I work all day and then am superparent to my minivan full of children and don’t have time to sit around doing nothing but read” and . . . .
Just because YOU don’t want to spend your spare time reading or participate in a challenge for fun doesn’t mean you need to put others who do on blast. You’re probably the first to rant about being “bullied” on social media too. Hypocrites. And on that note, this is my 200th book of the year. Challenge complete . . . .
If serial killer thrillers are your bag, delve into this one. The plot is not unlike a Gordian knot, intricate and tricky. Known as The Prophet, this serial killer is like quicksilver, mercurial, toxic, and deadly. He believes in poetic justice in the most literal sense. Devilishly good!
UNSUB is a thrilling ride, a can not put down tale of suspense and horror! Admittedly this shocks me. I was given this book by my local bookstore to review and subsequently lead a discussion for the mystery book club. I've read Gardiner before and was somewhat bored with her series. This book, however, takes her writing to a new level. It is more tightly written, the characters more developed and the storyline itself, while familiar, is still very intriguing.
Caitlin Hendrix is the daughter of the investigator who was"driven mad" by the UN-sub known as The Prophet, loosely based on the actual seriel killer called The Zodiac Killer. For those of us who lived through the nightmare of the Zodiac Killer, there is some similarity in this story. However, Gardner makes her UN-sub a little more complex (unless she had access to details the rest of us did not) and adds interesting quirks to the drama that will keep you turning the pages until the very end! I simply couldn't put down the book - at all.
Gardner has sold the rights for a television series and a follow up book is due out in 2018. Remember, the Zodiac Killer never was caught. Will Caitlin Hendrix have more luck? You know when the T.V. series begins everyone will want to read the book, so beat them to it and read it now. You'll be glad you did.
There comes a point in every bibliophile's life where you find a book that is so unsettling, dark, and scary that it completely changes your perspective on how you view a normal thriller/horror read and how you view a masterpiece in action. Ladies and gentlemen, UNSUB is this masterpiece! Wow... I hope I can give this review any justice, but let's see.
UNSUB initiates the story with father and police officer Mack Hendrix running a mission to capture San Francisco's deranged serial killer, nicknamed The Prophet. The Prophet has been known to leave riddles to justify the murder and torture of people and has never been caught. Hmm... sounds like the Zodiac killer? Flash-forward to the present day, 20 years after Mack's investigation has gone cold, young Caitlin Hendrix has followed in her father's footsteps and has begun to pick up the pieces. After coming across a murder that is eerily similar to the plethora of murders done by The Prophet, the Bay Area police initiate a once-cold, now super-hot investigation for him. Caitlin's life is completely engulfed in The Prophet's sinister and wicked games, but can she crack the code and stop this sick and twisted madman before it's too late?
As Caitlin gets closer and closer to the case, questions arise that need answers. Is this a copycat case? How and why has The Prophet returned after decades of tranquility? What do these riddles and clues mean? This killer tortures his victims before killing them, calls/contacts the victims' families repeatedly to taunt and torment them, and speaks with the press—he has no conscience. What can Caitlin do that hasn't already been done? Time is against her this time around and she needs to solve this case before it consumes her.
UNSUB is my first read by Meg Gardiner and I'm telling you now, Ms. Gardiner I AM AT YOUR MERCY. #queen #slay. I have never been so frightened by a book before—so frightened that I had trouble walking around my residence yesterday and ran to bed and shut the door! UNSUB is the type of book that not only resonates with any thriller book junkie, but will have a lasting impact on you. People are comparing this book to the tv series Criminal Minds, but I've never watched it. I can see people comparing this novel to The Saw Series, because it's not only a crime-fiction horror, but also one big puzzle that you need to solve while reading. Forget about my 2017 favorite reads, UNSUB is the most intelligently written crime fiction novel I've ever read.
The Prophet terrorized the Bay Area 20 years ago. He left 11 victims behind each killed in a horrific way ... and then he disappeared.
Caitlin Hendrix is a new Narcotics Detective when The Prophet seems to reappear. This is the monster she has nightmares about. Her father, Mack, was the lead detective when The Prophet was first known. Mack almost lost his sanity over his failure to catch this guy .... his partner was killed ... and Mack tried to kill himself.
Now Caitlin must face her biggest fear. Two bodies are found, each bearing the same injuries as his earlier victims. The bodies are mutilated and he sends notes ... the only clues he leaves for the police.
Although her father tries to warn her as she draws closer to the killer with each new killing.
Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss? (from book synopsis)
Excellent psychological thriller! Kept me glued from the very first page to the explosive sending. I have read a few of this author's earlier books ... she has really mastered her craft. The characters are credible and I really enjoyed the relationship between Caitlin and her father.... and the relationship between Caitlin, her FBI boyfriend, Sean, Sean's ex-wife and daughter.
Another book featuring Caitlin Hendrix will be out sometime next year. INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE. I will be watching for it ... will you?
Many thanks to the author / PENGUIN GROUP Dutton / Netgalley for the digital copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
This was a solid serial killer mystery. I thought it was generally done at a good pace and I enjoyed it. It wasn't my favorite of all time, but a decent read. I've seen mixed reviews on this, either raving 5 star reviews or lower reviews claiming it was slow and boring. I'm in the middle I suppose. So you'll have to decide for yourself on this one. I'm not sure I'll be jumping into the next book right away, but perhaps at some point.
An entertaining serial-killer thriller. For me, it was just that! It was kind of messy and put together haphazardly. I didn’t see any pattern nor any logic to the killings. Serial killers tend to stick to their routine. There was no background about the serial killer as to his reasons for the murders. I know he thought the sinners should all go to hell etc. but why did he believe such a thing? What was the catalyst for his killings? Did he lose a loved one? Was his family killed brutally? Was he a victim of abuse? Was he bullied? Not that there is any good reason for someone to become a serial killer, but you just don't get up and start systematically killing people left and right in super ingenious ways for no good reason that at least would make sense to you. Why were those specific victims chosen? Why did the murderer sometimes kill one and other times two people, why did his MO change. At times, I was really confused. Why were we informed of the name of the killer 2/3 through the book? Either we should get to know the identity of the bad guy from the beginning, or else find it out in the end. What is the purpose of the mystery if his name is just thrown at us in a haphazard way? From the start I felt like I was thrown in the middle of several serial murder plots and didn’t know which way to swim! And the ending? I felt cheated!
Having seen every single episode of Criminal Minds I like to fancy myself an amateur behavior analyst. Not in the sense that I can actually analyze human behavior with any skill, but more along the lines of; I know the right terminology and how profiling works in a general way. So the minute I saw the title of this I was interested, Unsub stands for unknown subject and my hours of watching CM taught me this along with terms like victimology and escalation. This stuff fascinates me and UNSUB read just like one manic episode of one of my favorite shows.
Caitlin is a new officer and this is her first major case. I really liked her as a lead, she’s strong yet vulnerable inside, and she’s also super sharp and witty. The mix of her personal and professional lives was perfectly balanced, and her fathers connection to the Prophet killer was a nice addition.
The construction of this complicated plot was totally brilliant, the first half is fast paced enough, but around the halfway point things really get kicked into high gear and the tension is through the roof. It’s a deadly game of cat and mouse and the pacing is relentless. The Prophet was one of the scariest fictional killers I’ve ever come across, for as much as I read books with serial killers I normally don’t get that frightened but I have to admit that I was scared witless this time! He’s meticulous, ruthless, calculated and cunning and though he’s laid low for twenty years, he’s back with a vengeance. History is repeating itself in the worst possible way and things come to a head in an explosive, gripping conclusion.
I’ve been deliberately vague in terms of the plot, but trust me when I say, if you like serial killer novels or shows, this is a must read!
This is the first book in the UNSUB series. The stories in this series are inspired by real-life cases of well-known serial killers.
Intense, gripping, and unputdownable. Did you ever think you could go hours with goosebumps? Well, with this book you can. The serial killer that drove Caitlin Hendrix's father mad is back, twenty years later. Now, Caitlin is on the team that is determined once and for all to get rid of "The Prophet". His crimes, victims and killing techniques are all over the place. This time he is out for vengeance and on a mission, he's not stopping this time.
The first in a series that has Caitlin Hendrix looking for the one her father "could not put away". I really liked this new character and seriously look forward to reading more in the series. Caitlin with her analytical skills and ability to solve puzzles really made me want to keep on reading. And I want to keep on reading with any future books in the series.
I thought that the mystery was exciting and pretty complex. This wasn't one of those books where you figure out what is going on early on. I don't think I ever figured anything out before the author wanted me to but I never stopped trying. All of the descriptions in the story really helped bring the story to life.
This was my first Meg Gardiner book, but it won’t be my last. I’ve already added "Into the Black Nowhere", the second book in this series. What a fabulous, chilling, gory, unputdownable book. I loved every page. I raced through this book at lightening speed, unable to stop reading because of the need to know how it was all going to work out in the end. And it was worth every moment spent flipping pages. Seriously amazing.
The murders and the crime scenes are grisly, the Prophet was one unhinged fellow. And the police work is fascinating. I love reading about this process.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of police procedures, twisted serial killers and books that you simply cannot put down until you've turned the last page. This was a stunner!
I just had to take a few hours after I finished this to fully process what I just read. WOW was that a thriller ride or what? After all the hype that this book came with I can tell you that this did not disappoint. Also, I could NOT read this at night at all. This would have freaked me out too much to not panic. That's how thrilling it was.
We meet Caitlin who is a detective and a killer from her past reappears: the prophet. He is brutal and I mean he is at brutal as they come. The Prophet went after Caitlin's Dad when she was younger as he was investigating the eleven murders along the Bay Area. When Caitlin hears about two more murders that recently occurred twenty years later...all her memories resurface. Also, the prophet *may* just be out to get Caitlin because she's tied to her father but first he must play games with some of the people in her life to get her attention so he can get her right where he wants her. But does she take the bait?
Caitlin has a lot of decisions to make. Does she go for the prophet and sacrifice the people she loves? Does she run away so that she can keep herself safe? Can she save the people the prophet goes after in time? Who can she trust? So. Many. Questions.
The book twists and turns in so many ways my brain is still trying to catch up. It was incredibly well written and I literally picked it up any time I had a free moment just to find out what was going to happen next.
Some trigger warnings: this book is incredibly graphic and I mean INCREDIBLY graphic. So if you're not good with violence or disturbing images of murderous activity beware because the author spared no detail.
The ending was amazing. I cannot wait to gets my hands on Into the Black Nowhere and continue on Caitlin's journey. If you love thrillers, you need to read this ASAP.
The Prophet killed 11 people in the Oakland area in the 1990's. Then he disappeared. The fact the killer was never caught ruined the life of the lead investigator on the case. Detective Caitlin Hendrix knows that better than anyone else because that investigator is her father. Twenty years after The Prophet killings, a woman's body is discovered in a cornfield. She has been strangled to death. A crude symbol depicting Mercury has been pounded into her chest with nails. It's The Prophet's signature. The symbol he left on all his victim. He's back......
OMG! This book just did not let up! Caitlin Hendrix is a great main character. She is determined to solve the case that destroyed her father and led her down a dark path as a teenager. She works relentlessly to break the code contained in strange poetry The Prophet leaves at each crime scene. The killer is methodical and ruthless. He taunts the investigators, terrifies the public with online videos and threats, and always seems one step ahead of the police. This story is so suspenseful and chilling! I loved it!
This is the first book by Meg Gardiner that I've read. I will definitely be reading some of her other books! A second book in the Unsub series, Into the Black Nowhere, is coming out on January 30th. I can't wait to find out what's in store next for Caitlin Hendrix!