FAN MAIL by P.D. Martin
On her last day at FBI headquarters at Quantico before transferring to the Los Angeles field office, Australian FBI profiler Sophie Anderson is given the task of showing crime author Loretta Black around the facilities. She finds Black to be rude and overbearing, and is glad when the tour is over.
Within days of Sophie's arrival in Los Angeles, Black is found murdered in bizarre circumstances. She has been killed in exactly the same way as the victim in her latest book. It doesn't take long for Sophie to link this crime with the murder of another crime author several months earlier in San Francisco. She too had been killed in the same manner as one of her fictional victims.
When another author disappears in circumstances similar to the plot of her most recent book, Sophie is involved in a desperate race against time to catch the killer before he can kill again.
FAN MAIL is the third book featuring psychic FBI profiler Sophie Anderson. I have to admit that I don't normally like woo-woo in crime fiction, and Sophie's psychic ability initially made me wary of this series. However, thankfully Martin has resisted the temptation of having Sophie have a convenient vision and voila! - crime solved. Actually there was one such moment, relating to a side plot, but I didn't mind that instance as I'd already figured it out for myself some time before without any psychic intervention!
Rather Sophie's visions help provide her with a better picture of the victim and the crime scene, and she combines this with the more usual profiler techniques to build a better picture, more quickly, of the perpetrator. She chose to transfer to a field office so she could make better use of her psychic abilities at crime scenes when the details are likely to be fresher and her visions stronger.
Alongside the main plot, the finalisation of the investigation from the previous book, THE MURDERERS' CLUB continues. I would recommend reading the earlier book before starting FAN MAIL as it contains significant spoilers. As we follow the course of the investigations, a lot of detail about investigative and forensic procedures is included and, while mostly interesting, it sometimes gets a bit tedious and has a tendency to slow down the story.
It takes a brave crime author to write a story about a serial killer murdering crime authors! But luckily Martin had no such qualms because FAN MAIL is good fast paced thriller with an interesting and unique character in Sophie.
Australian FBI profiler Sophie Anderson is given an easy job on her last day at Quantico. She is to give a guided tour of the FBI facility to a crime novelist and brief her on profiling. Sophie doesn’t warm to the rude and aloof Loretta Black
One of the first things Sophie learns on arrival in Los Angeles to begin her new posting is that Black has been murdered. This obviously wasn’t a random act of violence. Black has been killed and her body posed in a manner that exactly duplicates her newly released novel. Feeling that she can give some insights, Sophie contacts the detective investigating and offers to help. Among the fan mail Loretta Black has received is one signed simply “a fan”. It criticises the violence in Black’s book and seems to contain a thinly veiled threat warning her to stop. When another author is found murdered in the same way as the book she has written, Sophie and Detective Dave Sorrell believe they have found a serial killer who has perhaps killed before and will almost certainly kill again.