Aidan McConnell is an outcast. Previously a lecturer and author as well as a private investigator, he used his psychic powers to find missing children. But when he failed to find the missing son of a family called the Remingtons, he was blamed for sending the investigation in the wrong direction and lambasted in the media, as well as threatened with lawsuits. It got so bad that he quit his job as an investigator and moved from Savannah, Georgia to the small town of Granville, where he simply dropped off the radar.
Now, he simply lives a restricted life in town. Except for the phone calls and occasional visits he gets from his boss, Julia Harrington, he doesn't contact anyone. And while Julia and some of the investigators he used to work with visited him about a month ago, he sees no one and contacts no one.
Lexie Nolan is also an outcast. Previously Granville's premiere reporter, she wrote a story on The Ghoul, a serial killer she believes is responsible for the disappearance of a number of young women from the wrong side of the tracks in town. But publication of her story led to censure by the police chief, who said that the girls simply ran away, either for a boy, or simply to get out of their dead-end lives. That he called them tramps also rankled her, but that wasn't the end of the fallout from Lexie publishing her article.
She got busted down to cub reporter, and even though her boss wouldn't fire her, it was a close thing. Her former mentor, Stan, who'd burned because she was better than him and wouldn't sleep with him, loved her downfall, and taking her place was just icing on the cake. Lording it over her new reduced position, he torments her every day, and loves every minute of her downfall. But he isn't the only one to hate her over what she published, and Lexie, even though she wants to believe that Chief Dunston is right, knows that any attempt at laughing off the possibility of a serial killer operating in Granville is just wrong.
When another young girl, Yvonne Jackson, daughter of a whore from the wrong side of the tracks, is snatched, it doesn't quite feel the same. Vonnie may have been from the wrong side of town, but she was smart enough to have taken all the AP courses at the Public High School and then to have switched schools for the High School on the Privileged side of town. She hated her origins and knew that schooling, and the offers of full scholarships to better Universities, were her ticket out of the life her mother lived. She would never have just run away, and she didn't have a boyfriend- or want one, either.
Lexie's boss is concerned when Vonnie disappears. His own daughters knew Vonnie, and Jessie and Taylor went to the same school. Jessie last saw her at the meeting of the Honor Society, just before Vonnie disappeared. He believed in Lexie and her article, and he's afraid for what this means- if now the Ghoul will be taking girls from the better side of town, then no one is safe anymore. Worse, a friend of his found human remains on the road. But when Chief Dunston was called out to see them, he said it was just old bear bones scattered by animals. Her boss tells her to contact Aidan- he might be able to find out the truth of what is really going on.
But Aidan really hates the Press after the hatchet job they did on his life. But he finds that Lexie's determination, honesty and stubbornness cannot be resisted. Drawn into the case, he finds himself still contacting Vonnie, whose skin he once touched when she waited on him in a restaurant. But if he wants to save her, He, Lexie and his former compatriots will have to work together to find out what ties all of the girls together and why anyone would want so many young women of the town dead. But can they do it before the killer kills Vonnie?
I've read other stories of detectives with psychic and/or otherworldly powers, like that of Marjorie M. Liu's Dirk and Steele detective Agency, but this one promised something new- no flashy psychic powers, something low-key and more realistic. And I also liked the way the story was presented, both on the blurb on the back of the book, and in the book itself. Aidan has a hard time controlling his power, and it can easily get away with him, and he's not always able to interpret what everything means, which makes him intriguingly flawed.
Lexie has her own issues as well. Her recent shunning and downfall were upsetting to her, but she is attempting to deal with it. But she is upset at the thought that her article was really true, and is angry at the Chief for being such an ass. During much of the course of the novel, it's just her and Aiden against the true killer, and while I had a suspicion early on that there was a character who would eventually be the guilty one, I was glad to be proven wrong, and the true killer was someone else, but we do meet him, in a way.
I loved this book. The revelations about what is really going on in town, and not just one but two mysteries and two killers made the action and mystery so much better and deeper. None of the characters is a cardboard cutout, not even the serial killer, and his background is equally tragic. I enjoyed every part and moment of this novel. Highly recommended, and I am anxious to read more of this series, as the next book came out in April of this year. Well worth reading.