Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner is such an intense plot that the light should be on when reading this. It is a testament to her writing that she can have a dark action-packed plot without the gory details and still grab readers from page one. This novel delves into the minds of a serial killer and those in law enforcement who pursue them. In this second book of the series the psychopath mirrors the real-like killers Ted Bundy with a little of Dennis Rader.
The premise of the story is that people can vanish without a trace. The book opens with a gripping scene in which the killer is holding an infant on his lap. He lures the new mother to him and is able to abduct her. She is not the first victim but actually the fifth. The local police enlist the help of Caitlin Hendrix, a former narcotics detective who had a knack for tracking killers, and is now a rookie FBI agent assigned to the elite Behavioral Analysis Unit. She and her colleagues, Brianne Rainey and C. J. Emmerich are called in to find this perpratrator. All the victims vanish on Saturday nights, one from a movie theatre, another from her car, and others from a salon, a college campus, and a café. What Caitlin must do is get inside the mind of this psychopath to figure out his selection process. The FBI is desperately searching for him before he can kill again.
Elise Cooper: You based the story on real-life serial killers, did you read or see Mindhunters?
Meg Gardiner: I found it fascinating and informative about the start-up of the Behavioral Analysis Unit within the FBI. Rader is the guy they show at the beginning of every episode, a petty authoritarian. My psychopath, Kyle, is a fictional character who has some aspects of Rader including a desire to control his environment. He is a narcissist, lacks a conscience, and is manipulative. But I really based it on Ted Bundy.
EC: Why Ted Bundy?
MG: He was someone on the outside who every mother would want for their daughter. He was so good at camouflaging himself and was able to slip through the cracks. Kyle is hiding in plain sight similar to what Ted Bundy did. Both passed themselves off to the world at large as clean cut American guys who were bright, had a big future ahead, charming, who knows how to easily gain people’s trust. I wanted to show how these monsters wear the mask of sanity because they look normal. They take advantage of that to have people let down their guard.
EC: You use actual terms such as homology, SCIF, organized/disorganized killer?
MG: I want to write a gripping plot, but also add a sense of realism to the story. For example, homology is the elusive point where the person and action come together. I went to FBI seminars for writers. They were full-fledged high-quality homicide investigators that had an expertise in profiling. I wanted my FBI characters to be able to examine all the forensics, every inch of the crime scenes. They need to identify where the attacks might occur, where the criminals possibly live, and then mesh everything together.
EC: It is interesting that you had two females as partners?
MG: More and more women are joining the FBI so I did not think it too far-fetched. Her partner, Brianne Rainey is a mentor of sort to Caitlin. She is a former cop, a veteran, a mom and will definitely be a recurring character. I describe her in the book as an African-American, thirty-nine years old who is thoughtful, frank, and has cool poise.
EC: What motivates Caitlin?
MG: She has the desire to protect other people. She wants to overcome the rough parts of her own childhood. Suicide plays an important role in this book and her life.
EC: What about the relationship she had with Sean? In the first book, more attention was paid to it and I missed their interaction.
MG: In this book they had a long-distance romance. I think there can be these long-distance relationships, but not forever. When I started dating my husband we lived about 300 miles apart. Sean and Caty need to work it out and figure how to do it. The relationship between them will be worked out in the next novel as they have to deal with the Prophet, the serial killer of the first book, who comes back.
EC: Thank you for not having gory scenes. Why?
MG: I found that a touch of blood goes a long way. Readers’ imaginations are much more powerful than what I could put on a page. All I do is suggest and then people’s fears take it from there.
EC: What is one of your fears?
MG: It is a creepy idea that people are just here and then are gone. There are still victims of Ted Bundy that have not been found. I read about recent cases around the country where people have just vanished. Imagine, even with forensics, surveillance, and drones it is still possible for people to disappear.
EC: Why the Austin setting?
MG: I live here now and in the past my books were set in Southern California so I wanted a change. Since I have lived here for four years I thought it is about time to set a book within this setting. I also definitely wanted to take advantage of the landscape, the people, and it gave me an excuse to try every taco stand in the city. The ones mentioned in the story are my favorites. I went to a local Starbucks near me and just watched people to see their interaction. Coming up with characters is one of the most fun parts of writing.
Into the Black Nowhere (UNSUB #2)
In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.