Puzzle Me Dead, Kathy Childs
PUZZLE ME DEAD is the story of Careen Tamley, a survivor of the Clown Killer. On her nineteenth birthday, she survived a terrifying assault by a still unidentified serial killer, eleven other girls were not so lucky. Each murder scene included a card, numbered two to twelve. Careen moved on as best she could, despite the killer constantly sending her creepy messages, despite never knowing who they are, or why she was picked. She's become a bit of a workaholic, obsessed with her own security, but still she's been receiving pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, making up the face of a clown, each piece numbered, counting down again from twelve. The messages seems pretty clear, number one in his scheme is still on his mind.
Careen Tamley seems to be a trauma magnet in PUZZLE ME DEAD. As if the close call from a serial killer in her past wasn't enough, there's also plenty of mystery about the presumed suicide of her beloved mentor, founder of the company that she has worked so hard to maintain. Then there's the gutter journalist who seems to enjoy poking about in Careen's past, and somebody close who is in an abusive relationship with a dangerous, angry, partner.
Needless to say, anybody suffering from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) would do well to proceed with extreme caution. Although there's a hell of a lot going on in PUZZLE ME DEAD to the point where it gets a bit cinematic, with decided horror-movie overtones, it does keep coming back to the Clown Killer thread. Needless to say with this much happening, it's a swirling vortex of nasty, all spinning Careen into a state of terror, increasingly aware that nobody, even those with best intentions, can be trusted because there's a master manipulator sitting at the centre of all these threads and they are very good at crafting impenetrable knots.
I will admit that for this reader it got a little too busy at some points, which kind of downplayed the credibility levels a bit too much. There are elements of this story though, that are flat out scary despite a bit of femjep that stopped short of nighties, high-heels and candles in basements thankfully. Although not completely convinced by the ending, I could definitely see PUZZLE ME DEAD as one of those stories that would work for readers who are particularly drawn to the central themes of manipulation and terrorisation.
The countdown has begun!
On her nineteenth birthday Careen survived a terrifying assault at the hands of the Clown Killer. She was lucky; she escaped - the next eleven girls did not. On each dead body the killer left a card numbered two to twelve.
Careen has tried to move on, to forget, but it appears someone has decided to revisit her past. She starts to receive pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that make up the face of a clown, each numbered and counting down from twelve. The message is clear - this time his number one will not get away. Is the Clown Killer back to finish what he started or is someone else playing a deadly game And if so, why?
Puzzle Me Dead is a compelling tale of family, friendship, betrayal and revenge that leaves you wondering just who you can trust