One for murderinas: All his pretty girls by Charly Cox

Elevator Pitch: 

Kiss the Girls with one deadly twist



In one of my favorite thrillers of all time, the hero dies after 100 pages, knocking you off-kilter for the rest of the book. It's a thin line to walk, how brave a writer should be: protect the sympathetic characters, or raise the stakes and let them face actual consequences? When a writer follows through with a threat, you can get mad or get on board.
All my pretty girls is particularly harsh on one of its characters, and seeing that part of the story told from its perspective makes for a shocking twist when the fate is revealed.
The beginning of this book reminded me of Silence of the Lambs, where Bill's kidnap victim, is humanized by not acting completely defenseless.  When All my pretty girls gave voice to the kidnap victim of a serial killer, I immediately was on her side, rooting for her. Then I was taken off guard, and for the next chapters, I kept asking myself why Charlie Cox would choose such a twist. Later it became all clear. Serial killer stories are so overdone, to keep us afraid, you have to take these monsters and the story seriously. If there are no stakes, there is no tension. I got me on board. And All his pretty girls was all the more scary and hair-raising for it.
The pressure does let up a bit by the end when it delves into the back story of the serial killer; I am never a fan of too much exposition into the bad guy.  Scarier is to read about a victim trying to survive, then the reason why somebody became evil.
What I enjoyed very much was the relation between Alyssa and Cord, the team of investigators. They are an unusual pair; Cord is a knockout and a very decent guy. Alyssa is a materfamilias, highly professional, empathic, and determined. Their relationship feels comfortable, relatable, and delightful. I also enjoyed the family scenes interspersed with the investigation. Alyssa's husband and kids are all well-drawn.
The final plot twist, well, I am not entirely convinced by it. This whole story gets tied up with a very snug knot, almost suffocating it, but by then, I was committed. I would have been happy to see the book finished at its climax, skip the wrap-up. Still, I am very much looking forward to reading more about this compassionate pair of detectives.

The gist: 

Alburqueque (!) detective Alyssa Wyatt and her partner investigate the disappearance of Callie McCormick. Soon Callie is found alive, and it becomes clear she was kidnapped, and the perpetrator had done it before. The man has a type, and Alyssa Wyatt fits the profile. So while she is hunting this monster, this guy may be waiting right outside the detective's door, ready to strike again.