As you know I regularly review books for Rosie’s Book Review Team and in this case, this novel came to me both directly through the author’s husband and it was also one of the novels on offer in Rosie’s group. As the launch was on the 11th of April, I’ve tried to time it to coincide with the date. I’ve also included a guest post by the author that will be of particular interest to the writers of the genre, although I’m sure the readers will be intrigued to read the ins and outs of the process of creating a serial killer novel.
REMNANTS Author: Carolyn Arnold Series: Brandon Fisher FBI series, Book 6
All that remains are whispers of the past…
When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.
With no quick means of identifying the victims, building a profile of this serial killer is proving more challenging than usual. How is the killer picking these victims? Why are their limbs being severed and bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this killer to murder?
The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: the killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…
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A little information about the series:
What to expect from the Brandon Fisher FBI series:
Profilers. Serial killers. The hunt is on. Do serial killers and the FBI fascinate you? Do you like getting inside the minds of killers, love being creeped out, sleeping with your eyes open, and feeling like you’re involved in murder investigations? Then join FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit in their hunt for serial killers.
This is the perfect book series for fans of Criminal Minds, NCIS, Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Dexter, Luther, and True Crime.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.
A bit about the author:
CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website – http://carolynarnold.net/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold
And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.
And as promised, a guest post by the author:
Writing Serial-Killer Fiction BY CAROLYN ARNOLD
The world seems to be uniquely fascinated and captivated by the mystery of serial killers. What motivates them to kill, and why do they choose certain people to be their victims? As fiction writers, we need to harness that intrigue, but we also should be very careful not to allow our work and characters to become cliché. That feat is certainly a tough one—especially since most stories have already been written!—but it can be done. It’s all about making your work extraordinary by creating your own distinct slant and personalized voice. And let’s not forget that it’s up to you to make sure your storytelling is superb.
But there’s even more to it than good writing and coming up with a unique motivation and method of operation (MO) for your serial killer. You also have to know how your investigator is going to realistically look at the case. You want to portray your main character—for example, an FBI agent—as following and working through the investigative process the way one would if he or she was living and breathing. If you don’t, you risk losing your reader, not only for that book but possibly for future ones, too.
So where do you begin when you want to write this kind of fiction? Let’s start with what constitutes a serial killer. The basic definition requires a series of three or more killings that, due to characteristics such as an MO, can be attributed to one individual.
From here, the serious authors do their due diligence to educate themselves both in the mindset of a killer and the investigator, as well as in accurate police procedure. They should search online and reach out to real-world contacts for direction and feedback. As they do this, they’ll come to see a basic formula and start to recognize common terms and phrases, such as cooling-off period, trigger, organized, disorganized, hunter, sexual sadist, and the list goes on. As they dig even deeper, they will start to understand all that is involved in building a profile, as well as how and what information the investigator needs to compile a solid lead.
While writing serial-killer fiction takes a lot of research, it is very rewarding. As an author, you provide entertainment to many readers, it’s true, but you are also shining light on a dark part of society. You are going beyond the surface of the horror and providing some clarity into these heinous crimes and the minds of those who commit them.
And you’ll be wondering what I thought about the book…
Thanks to Rosie Amber, to the author and her husband for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I voluntarily choose to review (before its official launch).
I read thrillers often and although until recently I’d been reluctant to read books belonging to series that I had not followed before, I’ve found myself reading a few books in this category and enjoying them. Sometimes we might feel particularly attracted to a story line but wonder if we’ll enjoy a book where we’re missing much of the background. Rest assured; although your experience might be different to that of somebody who’s followed the characters from the very beginning, that shouldn’t put you off.
In this novel, the sixth in the Brandon Fisher FBI series, the story is complex and intriguing. The setting, Savannah, Georgia, where some body parts are found in the river crossing through an old plantation. New remains keep appearing and the details of the cases point at ritual killings. Things get more and more bizarre and the plot twists and turns like the river itself.
Most of the book is narrated in the first person by Brandon Fisher. As mentioned, I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, but there are quite a few clues as to past events in his life (he was married, lost a child, was in a relationship with a member of the team, Paige, that ended…) and in that of other team members (his boss almost died in a recent case, Paige is now in a new relationship…) and we get a good sense of the dynamics within the team. There are some chapters written in the third person but narrated by Paige, and also by other unnamed characters (that we soon realise are involved in the crime). The author spins the story with these different threads, managing to maintain the intrigue and mystery despite the alternating viewpoints and complexities. She is also very adept at making the characters sound genuine, using professional terminology and achieving a high degree of accuracy on the procedural side of things, ensuring that the authentic details serve the story rather than slowing it down with endless descriptions that distract the reader from the plot.
There is plenty of action, clues to follow, puzzles to be solved, and an interesting explanation behind the crimes. (As I want to avoid spoilers at all cost, I won’t talk in detail about it, although as a psychiatrist, and one who has worked in forensic psychiatry for a number of years, I must say one of the aspects of the explanation is controversial within the profession [the diagnosis is included in several classifications of mental disorders although disputed by clinicians] but very popular in books and movies.)
The book is easy to read, a page-turner and difficult to put down. Brandon Fisher is not the typical hero: he doubts himself, wonders often about his personal life and questions his decisions, worries about his partners and his boss, has a weak stomach and gets queasy in the scene of violent crimes. He can be reckless at times, has a sense of humour, and is good at convincing people and reading them, gaining their trust. I wasn’t totally convinced that what he does at the end fits in with his behaviour and comments throughout the story, but it is understandable that being exposed to extreme risks and dangers would make anybody reconsider his or her life. The book can be enjoyed in its own right, but I’m always curious about the background of the characters, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed coming to the book armed with the knowledge of the previous novels in the series.
The local characters vary between the local police, who do not play an important part, the relatives of the victims, that are depicted sympathetically and given their own touching stories, and the characters linked to the current case. Some of those make brief appearances, whilst we know how the minds of others work and we see events from their points of view although we only find out their circumstances later. This works well for lovers of mysteries as we suspect and rule out many of the characters and keep wondering until the end.
In sum, a solid police procedural novel, well researched and constructed, for those who love complex stories and who don’t mind gore details.
Thanks so much to Rosie and to the author for providing me a copy of the book, thanks also to Carolyn Arnold for her informative guest post (I’m taking notes), thanks to all of you for reading and don’t forget to like, share, comment and of course, CLICK!