cover image At First Light

At First Light

Barbara Nickless. Thomas & Mercer, $15.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-5420-2641-3

This intense psychological thriller from Nickless (Ambush) finds Det. Addie Bisset along Chicago's Calumet River, where a man lies dead with three fatal wounds. Around the ritually posed body are sticks covered with mysterious symbols, which turn out to be Viking runes, according to Addie's university professor friend, Evan Wilding, whom she brings in as a consultant. After Addie discovers another case with the same modus operandi in another jurisdiction, it's clear a serial killer is on the loose. A forensic semiotician, Evan uses his linguistic skills to get inside the killer's mind and uncover clues to his identity. From deciphering the runes, Evan determines there will be three more killings. Evan and Addie race to prevent more bloodshed, but they're impeded by someone who deliberately misleads them and by a lieutenant who doesn't believe female officers are capable. Hints of a romantic relationship between the pair enliven the story, and references to Beowulf and Viking history add depth. Readers will hope to see more of Addie and Evan. Agent: Robert Diforio, D4EO Literary. (Dec.)