It’s my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the release of A Map of the Dark, the first book in a new Searchers series featuring Special Agent Elsa Myers from author Karen Ellis. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this book in a moment, as soon as I’ve told you what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
A girl missing
A woman, searching
A killer, planning…
A thrilling new FBI series for fans of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter.
FBI Agent Elsa Myers finds missing people.
She knows how it feels to be lost…
Though her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, Elsa cannot refuse a call for help. A teenage girl has gone missing from Forest Hills, Queens, and during the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads hides the fact that she did not go willingly.
With each passing hour, as the hunt for Ruby deepens into a search for a man who may have been killing for years, the case starts to get underneath Elsa’s skin. Everything she has buried – her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother’s death – threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.
In order to save the missing girl, she may have to lose herself…and return to the darkness she’s been hiding from for years.
Called in to help investigate the disappearance of a teenager, Elsa Myers is the foremost expert the FBI has. She has key skills which are acknowledged by her team as being some of the best and her reputation in this case has preceeded her. However her cases are usually solved without the added distraction of her father’s rapidly failing health, a situation which, combined with the investigation, cause Elsa to relive a past which she would rather remain buried.
And there in lies the crux of this story – the balance between Elsa’s private life – a deep rooted secret which informs her character, her determination, but also her demons – and the need to find the missing girl in a case which is set to become personal. Elsa is a hard person to get to know. She is private in the extreme, secretive to a point of distraction when it comes to her colleagues, and hates the thought that anyone can get under her skin. But this made me want to learn more about her. To find out what truly motivated her and what was the big secret that she is hiding. Her story is told in amongst that of the missing person’s case, in flashbacks to a childhood which is as compelling as it is harrowing. The more you understand this, the more you understand her.
One person who does seem to unerstand her, despite her own wishes, is Detective Lex Cole. Although sometimes abrupt in his manner, you can tell that he has the best of intentions and that he compliments Elsa completely. Although we do not spend as much time with Lex as we do with Else, he was a character I really came to like, and as his own back story started to be explored, you could see how he and Elsa could easily make a formidible team.
The story itself is not as fast paed as you might expect, the process of searching for a missing girl slow and labourious. We are privvy to Elsa and Lex’s investigations, are with them as they interview both witnesses and suspects, and as such are able to draw our own conclusions. And there are many to be drawn, although not everything will be as you expect. For some reason some of the witnesses seem reluctant to be honest and there seems to be more to the missing girl’s story than first expected. This creates a layer of tension and suspense which fits perfectly into the chilling and sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere of the story. And the feeling of things closing in on you continues as we experience part of the story through the eyes of the abductor’s victim. Quite traumatic at times but also giving hope as you can sense the victim’s will to survive.
There are those key moments of tension, where the pace picks up a touch and Elsa and the team beging to close in on the perpetrator. There is a lot to be lost if they get things wrong, particuarly for Elsa, and these are the moments which really make your pulse race. The rest of the book is more a cleverly composed psychological thriller, as much about the impacts of the abduction and our protagonist’s past as it is a police, or even FBI, investigation. There is a dark and sombre edge to this book, which the author has used to good effect throughout, the abductor’s lack of remorse quite chilling.
I really enjoyed getting to know Elsa and Lex and will be intrigued to see where the author takes this series next. Sadly, owing to the statistics of missing persons in the US, the possibilities are endless, but as first books go this had me engrossed from start to finish.
With thanks to the publishers, Hodder & Stoughton for the advance copy of A Map Of The Dark. It is released today and is available from the following retailers:
About the Author
Karen Ellis is the pseudonym of Katia Lief, the author of several internationally bestselling crime novels, including The Money Kill, the fourth installment of her Karin Schaeffer series published in 2013 and nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She teaches fiction writing at The New School in Manhattan and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Why not check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour