Beautiful Maids all in a Row Book Cover Beautiful Maids all in a Row
Iris Ballard
Jennifer Harlow
crime, thriller, suspense, female sleuths

In this white-knuckle thriller for fans of Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter, a brilliant, troubled forensic psychologist finds herself matching wits with a frighteningly talented sociopath.

Dr. Iris Ballard’s glory days are behind her, so when Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and onetime lover, asks for help constructing a psychological profile of an elusive serial killer who murders single mothers and dumps their bodies in the woods, Iris turns him away. She just wants to be left alone with her infomercials, her German Shepherd, and her vodka. That is, until she gets a peek at the case files.

The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.

The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.

This was the first book by the author when she was aged 19. Since then she has written a dozen more and this has now been re-edited and published in 2016.

As with many first books the subject matter is formulaic.

There is a damaged female forensic psychologist working for the FBI but now retired due to traumatic episode in her life and work.

She is brought back for a serial killer case due to her unique expertise.

The serial killer beats the system and comes for her.

So far, so formulaic. But.

The book is well written with the characters being well portrayed.

This was an excellent book [for someone of her age] even before being tidied up for current publication.

I would give it 3.5/4 stars.

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