Amanda Kyle Williams

Stranger in the Room

""...great characters and stylish writing." "


Summer is smouldering through Atlanta on Fourth of July weekend, as fireworks crack through the air and steam rises from the pavement on Peachtree. Private investigator and ex–FBI profiler Keye Street wants nothing more than a couple of quiet days alone with her boyfriend, Aaron—but, as usual, murder gets in the way.

A.P.D. Lieutenant Aaron Rauser is called to the disturbing scene of the death of a thirteen-year-old boy. Meanwhile, Keye must deal with not one but two of her own investigations: in the hills of Creeklaw County, there's a curious case involving chicken feed and a crematorium, and in Atlanta, Keye's emotionally fragile cousin Miki is convinced she is being stalked. Given Miki's history of drug abuse and mental problems, Keye is reluctant to accept her cousin's tale of a threatening man inside her house late one night. But as a recovering alcoholic herself, Keye can't exactly begrudge a woman her addictions - especially since Miki drives Keye to near-relapses at every turn. And yet, Miki is family, and Keye must help her—even if it means tempting her own demons.

All hell breaks loose when another murder—the apparent hanging of an elderly man—hits disturbingly close to home for Keye. And though the two victims have almost nothing in common, there are bizarre similarities between this case and that of Aaron's strangled teen. Is there a single faceless predator, a calculating murderer targeting his prey at random? Only a skilled profiler like Keye Street can help the A.P.D. find him. With the threat of more deaths to come, Keye works on pure instinct alone—and soon realizes that a killer is circling ever closer to the people she loves the most.

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Since leaving the FBI due to her being an alcoholic, Keye works alongside the Atlanta Police as a consultant on criminal behaviour. Keye is still trying to stay on the wagon but there are many temptations throughout the book. So many, that at times this second outing almost becomes more about Keye trying to beat the bottle than about the actual cases. Keye trying to find out who is threatening her cousin is the heavy going plot, but there is another thread which has, at times, a much lighter note to it - especially with the out-spoken neighbour of the crematorium. It was these dialogues, and some of those with Neil, (Keye's assistant) that added humour to the book. Keye's mother remains unchanged but does not seem to play such a large part in this second book. However, Neil is more involved and he is a great sidekick to Keye with his conversation which is peppered with humourous comments. I wasn't as won over with this book as I was the first one which I thought was a stunning debut and immediately made it a Fresh Blood choice last year on However, Williams' characters still really appeal to me. 'Stranger in the Room' was a very easy read and what was lost in tension was gained with great characters and stylish writing.

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