I love crime thrillers. In fact, aside from the occasional horror or supernatural story, I only read crime thrillers (right now—it’s probably a phase). Because of this, it takes either a very well written book or unique plot to blow me away. Robert Bryndza achieved both with The Night Stalker. As mentioned before, characters are the most important part of a story for me, and I loved each and every one—even the bad guy! I also currently have a “thing” for UK authors, and after reading the first in this Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster series (The Girl in the Ice), Robert Bryndza had me hooked. I look forward to reading more of Erika Foster!
I love when an author brings to life a lovable and relatable character that keeps me wanting to read a series. Although this is only the second in the DCI Erika Foster series, I’m already eager to read more about her career and cases, and escapades in her personal life. Robert Bryndza has successfully created a character that I can care about, that I can open the book (or turn on my iPad) and openly welcome into my home.
DCI Foster has lost her husband (in the line of duty and blames herself) and in The Night Stalker, we get to see how, after two years, she’s growing stronger in dealing with her grief and guilt. I couldn’t help but cheer her on through her hard time. She has her team, DI Moss and DI Peterson being the most notable, and her closest friend forensic pathologist Isaac Strong. So her whole life is basically the job.
Now for the good stuff. There’s a shadow creeping through the night picking off victims one by one. The first murder, of Gregory Munro, is assumed to have been the result of an unfortunate “gay bashing.” However, DCI Foster is unconvinced from the get go. Her suspicions are confirmed after the second murder of celebrity Jack Hart. A pattern has begun to take shape and an unwitting paparazzi’s photograph has captured the shadow underneath Jack Hart’s bed!
Due to a few pieces of evidence, DCI Foster concludes that the night stalker is a female, going against the original profile of the suspect. However, when Isaac Strong’s boyfriend, Stephen Linely, is found dead (under similar but not exact circumstances as the first two) he is arrested and charged for all three murders.
The next sequence of events I loved and hated at the same time. Due to jurisdictional issues, Erika Foster is thrown off the case; due to personal issues, she’s forced to use her saved up vacation time. What I hated was that her foe, DCI Sparks, became the SIO (senior investigating officer) of the case. What I loved was that she didn’t allow his accusations against Isaac Strong to keep her from continuing to investigate the murders.
In short, after reviewing the evidence from the case, Erika is led to Keith Hardy’s door: a handicapped dwarf that has been in online contact with the night stalker (online name Night Owl) for several years! Confirming, not only is the killer a woman, but that they have the wrong man in custody. Foster shares this newly found information with her boss and the investigative team sets up a failed meet between Duke (Hardy’s online name) and Night Owl.
I won’t spoil the climax, but let’s just say it doesn’t end well for Keith Hardy, but Erika Foster finally gets her man, or rather woman. Now here’s where my loyalty for DCI Foster’s character led me to frustration: not only is the credit for closing the case given to DCI Sparks (who practically didn’t do a thing), but he’s also given the promotion to Superintendent that Erika had been striving for! Ouch. So, we’re left with DCI Erika Foster’s career hanging in limbo as she tries to decide what she wants to do next.
All in all, The Night Stalker was a 5 out of 5 for me. I loved the idea of a female serial killer and vigilante detective being at odds with each other. The suspense, mystery, and characters were unerring. I cannot wait to see where Robert Bryndza leads DCI Erika Foster next!
© Chelsie Cummings 2016