Jack Till, a retired LAPD homicide detective, was working as a private investigator when he took the case of desperate parents looking for the murderer of their 24-year-old daughter.
The victim had been working as a high-class prostitute, and the police are content to assume she was killed by a client, common in such a dangerous line of work. As Till digs deeper, he realizes that the victim is just one of several young female escorts killed in different cities in the exact same way.
Till must find his way around the tawdry and secretive online escort business, and decode ads placed by young women who all use false names, advertise with other women’s pictures, and move from city to city every few months. Yet when Till is finally able to catch up with the killer, he finds that the man he’s after is far more dangerous and volatile than he ever could have imagined. As the body count rises, Till must risk his life to find this seductive and ruthless killer whose murderous spree masks a far deadlier agenda.
—2013, Mysterious Press
Perry doesn’t portray the escorts as hapless victims forced into the skin trade but as businesswomen who their bodies as a commodity for a customer base, more than willing to pay for it. The same effort went into developing the killer, Joey Moreland, who wasn’t some generic off-his-rocker nut job, but a calculating strategist with a malfunctioning moral compass.
Till refers to Moreland, the killer, as “The Boyfriend” because he builds romantic relationships with the escorts and lives with them before killing them, contradicting Perry’s portrayal of them as smart businesswomen. What woman would let a man, especially a former customer, move in with her within a month or so of knowing him? Especially in her home where she entertains other men and keeps large quantities of cash? These aren’t hard on their luck streetwalkers who would be blown away by a man’s kindness or see him as a protection against prowling pimps and abusive clients and let him into their inner sanctum. Perry may not see the escorts as sad victims, but he does apparently think they are idiots.
As the killer’s true motives are revealed, we discover he’s an idiot too. Moreland uses the escorts to cover up his real target, but the amount of time and money he wastes on wooing these women into letting him stay with them could have gone towards accomplishing his true goals without risking the exposure of their rising body counts. Throughout the story, Moreland is very careful to tie up loose ends and cover his tracks, but when he starts to feel the heat of the police, he keeps a witness alive and stays in the vicinity where he had committed multiple murders. What happened to the calculating strategist from the beginning of the story?!
I enjoyed the straight forward storytelling and character development, but the more the story unfolded, the less plausible I found it, making me feel duped by the characters I had fallen for in the beginning. –(Low) Borrow it.