Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: If you’re reading this, I’m already dead…
Stalked is book four in Elizabeth Heiter’s suspense filled FBI Profiler series. Easily read as a stand alone, this police procedural fueled thriller offers a convoluted mystery and low key romance elements. Based on special agent Evelyn Baine, Heiter leads our heroine back into the fray when she is tasked with helping the local police to help build a profile based on a note found after 17 year old Haley Cooke seemingly disappears out of thin air from cheerleading practice. Evelyn once again feels a connection between this young victim and Evelyn’s former best friend who was abducted when Evelyn was a child. As Evelyn applies her skills to the investigation, she learns that there were a lot of people interested in Haley Cooke. People who may deem her too much of a hassle if Evelyn doesn’t locate her soon.
The story is heavily vested in procedural investigative work as Heiter in submerges us into the case, bringing us up to date on the investigation and the large suspect pool. From Haley’s parents to her boyfriend-everyone seems to have a secret. Crystal clear contrasts between professional and personal feelings show us how easy it is to fixate on one aspect with little regard to others. Strong narrative and a steady pace holds your interest though at times I felt as though I was looking through a window and simply watching the proceedings without making a connection with the actual happenings. Quite a bit of head and scene jumping gave the book a choppy feeling and caused it to drag at times. I found myself throughout wishing for more physical and less mental action.
Two storylines intertwine throughout. One focuses on the abduction and the other on Evelyn’s boyfriend, fellow FBI agent Kyle MacKenzie, Fans of the series will remember that Kyle was shot in book three-Vanished– which led to him being reassigned from the HRT to field agent. He and a new partner, another familiar face from the series, are pulled into a possible human trafficking case which seems to tie into Evelyn’s case. Unlike the other installments, we get to see Kyle’s investigation from his POV and not just through Evelyn’s. This allows us to not only see Kyle at work but to see how his injury and new assignment is affecting him. The romance between Kyle and Evelyn is stronger but still maintains a very low profile. Evelyn is trying to deal with the fact they can now go public though she prefers to keep her private life private.
Evelyn seems to have settled after the events in Vanished though we can visibly see the issues from her own past tugging at her strongly in this case. We learn more about her childhood and the demons that still ride her. Intelligent, determined, and passionate, Evelyn has learned to push aside her personal feelings and concentrate on wholly on the case at hand. She teams up with the detective handling the case and instead of having to work the case through the eyes of dead or the killer, she has to step into the shoes of the presumably alive victim. This creates some tense scenes as Evelyn and Sophia weed through all the stories surrounding Haley’s life to determine what is fact and what is fiction.
The secondary characters are fully developed and maintain a strong presence. Each one has a personal agenda towards the case(s), adding drama and insight to the story. Heiter does an excellent job of using this cast to help layer the story, giving our heroine the blocks on which she needs to build her profile and solve the case. Misdirection is the key here and the villain(s) are steeped in deception and deceit; wolves in sheep’s clothing. I was shocked by the level of duplicity at work in here.
The ending is an intense undertaking as Evelyn and Kyle finally see the big picture. Here is the action I had been waiting on. Unlike Vanished, Heiter gives clues towards the big reveal throughout the story so we easily understand exactly what has been happening and why. You do not have to read the series in order enjoy this book though you miss out on Evelyn’s evolution. Heiter continues to set up the new storyline(s) and integrate the necessary background information to ensure the reader is in possession of all the facts to jump easily into to the story.
Overall Rating: B-