cover image Amy Among the Serial Killers

Amy Among the Serial Killers

Jincy Willett. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-27514-1

Willett’s clever latest (after Amy Falls Down) follows a retired writing workshop teacher and her protegee as they become entangled with a series of murders in San Diego. After 35-year-old Carla Karolac’s unloving mother dies, Carla turns the house they shared into a successful writing retreat. It’s been three years since her mom’s death, and though she’s imagined asking former mentor Amy Gallup to help her scatter the ashes, she can’t bring herself to do it. Carla adores Amy and once saved her life from a killer in Amy’s workshop. Now, after a writer is found dead at Carla’s house, Amy’s old workshop gang gathers around Carla, as does the obnoxious self-proclaimed “Writing Guru” John X. Cousins. Amy notes that everyone’s writing about serial killers because the stories sell, but after more real bodies appear, Cousins grows bolder about using people to construct a serial murderer narrative that he can exploit. Willett successfully turns the true crime motif into something more than a gimmick by fleshing out Carla’s melancholy past as a child actor and leaning heavily on the bond between Carla and Amy. A few zany side plots feel a bit tangential, but it all pays off in the end. This is a treat. (Aug.)