I’m not seeing it. I try and try – I’ve read both of Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB series – and I’m not seeing what the attraction is. And a shit load of people supposedly like these books. I say “supposedly” because, as I said, I’m not seeing it.
Gardiner begins Into the Black Nowhere with the hero of UNUB, Caitlin Hendrix, joining the famed Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. As Gardiner over explains:
The Behavioral Analysis Unit was a department of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime—a branch of the Critical Incident Response Group. Its mission involved investigating unusual or repetitive violent crimes. Critical incident response meant that when a hot case came to the BAU, it acted, and fast, because time was limited and people were in danger.
Seriously? Does anyone crime fiction reader of any age no know what the BAU is? It may seem that I’m nitpicking here, but how about this, “UNSUB was the FBI’s term for the unknown subject of a criminal investigation.” It goes on and on like that.
Forgetting about Hendrix’s accelerated training to go from a Portland-area sheriff’s office to the famed BAU, Gardiner’s dependence on the reader’s suspension of disbelief only gets worse. From a town of over 4,000 where we are told 70% of the kids go to the public high school which three of the victims graduated from none knew each other. All five victims were between the ages of 19 and 26. The math doesn’t work out. I’m befuddled. Where as Don Winslow blurbed it to be an “unrelenting page turner”, I was relenting with every page I turned.
Of course Hendrix is the only one on the team, a team of experience FBI agents, that has the tropey gut feel and identifies the serial killer before anyone else. The BAU comes up with a list of seventy-five suspects and the agent in charge lets Hendrix spend her valuable time targeting her suspect. Oh, she turns out the be correct of course, but really? A rookie FBI agent knows more than everyone else. This sort of bullshit continues page after page.
Gardiner is probably a wonderful person which is the only reason why I can imagine the likes of Winslow, Steve Hamilton, and Lisa Scottoline love this book. Stephen King blurbs, “Simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I’ve come across in the last twenty years.” Really, Stephen, really? What about Stieg Larson or Michael Connelly or Ian Rankin or Tana French or … fuck it who cares. The UNSUB series is not that good and King should be ashamed.
I pushed my way through Into the Black Unknown so you won’t have to. You should stay away from this one and I’ll be staying away from the third installment as it is going to happen just like we’ll all wake up tomorrow to another fucked up tweet from Donald Trump. My disdain for this book is so great, I really have to question your tastes if you loved it. Severe, I know, but as I said, I’m not seeing it.