From writer, producer, and actor best known as “Murr” on the hit television shows Impractical Jokers and The Misery Index, James Murray, and co-writer Darren Wearmouth, comes a suspenseful masterpiece that leaves a cruise ship stranded at sea with a serial killer hiding aboard…
Two years ago, Maria Fontana, the head of the Psychology Department at Columbia University, sat on a jury for one of the most depraved cases ever to pass through the hallowed halls of City Hall. Wyatt Butler, an antique watch restorer and alleged serial killer, was portrayed in the courtroom as a brutal monster. But Maria had to make the tough choice. In good conscience, she couldn’t convict him based purely on circumstantial evidence, and her deciding vote set Wyatt Butler free. The media soon outed her as the lone juror and her successful and quaint life was turned upside down. The victims of Wyatt’s ritualistic killings never forgave her either.
Now, she and her family have decided to take a vacation to get away from everything: a two-week-long transatlantic cruise. Nothing, and nobody should be able to bother her there. With her two twins and her fiancé Steve, she is set to put the past behind her as soon as the ship leaves port. But when a passenger mysteriously disappears, Maria is left to wonder if maybe this was no coincidence. When another passenger is discovered brutally murdered in a similar way to Butler’s ritualistic MO, the ship goes on lockdown.
Maria, one of only twelve people in the world with intimate knowledge of the case, faces a perilous ticking clock. Is it a copycat? Or is she trapped on board with the bloodthirsty maniac she chose to set free?
I needed to relax with a light cozy mystery after finishing the intense and extremely graphic serial murder mystery, The Stowaway.
I really liked the highly original premise of the book. The reader-friendly writing kept me happily turning the pages until… the gruesome murder and dismemberment of a child was described in gory, horrific detail. As a mother, that scene brought me to a full stop and I closed the book.
I’ve read police procedurals by Lisa Gardener and Karin Slaughter about psychopathic killers that nearly straightened my naturally curly hair, so a couple of days later, I decided to reopen my Kindle and read more of The Stowaway. The gruesome murders continued, but I was able to skim those scenes to find out what happened next to protagonist Maria and her family. I really liked Maria, and her plight kept me ploughing ahead. Again, the book’s originality and good writing nudged me forward, though I struggled to keep horrific images out of my head. Some of the plot points involving descriptions of the murderer stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, but just about anything is possible in fiction, so I continued to read. This book, I’m pleased to say, was brought to a satisfactory conclusion. It appears to be first in a new series.
My rating reflects the things I liked about The Stowaway. This would have been a five star book for me if the child murders had been less graphic or committed off the page and referenced during evidence gathering by police.
Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC to read and review.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4097375522
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250263654