Book Review: A Perfect Obsession
Series: New York Confidential #2
Published by Mira Books on March 28th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Heather Graham’s A Perfect Obsession is the second book in her New York Confidential series. In this book, FBI special agent Craig Frasier is investigating a case that appears to involve a serial killer. Someone is murdering beautiful young women and leaving them carefully staged and displayed in mausoleums and underground tombs around New York City. Craig’s girlfriend, Kieran Finnegan, a forensic psychologist and also part owner of her family’s pub, is also consulting on the case to try to help them get inside the mind of the killer in hopes of narrowing their field of suspects. Although Craig and Kieran have worked together before, this time Craig is somewhat uncomfortable having Kieran on the case.
Because the killer is targeting beautiful women, Craig fears for Kieran’s safety, especially if she puts herself out there actively trying to help find the killer. Craig’s nerves with respect to Kieran are especially on edge because the first body that was discovered was found in a catacomb under a two-hundred-year-old church, which has been deconsecrated and renovated into a nightclub. The former church/nightclub is located directly behind Finnegan’s Pub in lower Manhattan, thus right at Kieran’s back door.
As more bodies are found, all staged in similar ways, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, dealing with a serial killer and that they are in a race against time to stop him or her before more beautiful women are killed.
The Mystery and Suspense. The case itself was my favorite part of A Perfect Obsession. The killings themselves and the way the bodies were so carefully and artfully staged in the graveyards and mausoleums was just so darn creepy! It literally made my skin crawl every time they discovered a new body. In addition to the awesome creepy factor, it’s also just a great mystery story filled with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing about the killer’s identity and motivations until the very end. I thought I had it all figured out a few times along the way but got thrown a curve ball each time that sent me looking in another direction, so I enjoyed that it wasn’t at all predictable.
The FBI Investigation. The story had a very CSI/Criminal Minds feel to it since there was so much emphasis on forensics and the crime scenes and also because they were clearly dealing with a twisted individual. I’m a big crime show junkie so this aspect of the story worked very well for me. I loved following the actual FBI investigation as they discussed suspects and possible theories, as they followed leads, and as they traveled to interview law enforcement and witnesses in other locales as more and more bodies were found. I thought the author did a fantastic job showing every angle of the investigation as it unfolded.
The New York City Setting. Another highlight of the book for me was the historical/archaeological aspect. New York City has always been one of my favorite cities. I love its rich history and I especially love those old churches in Lower Manhattan, especially Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. I found it thrilling to be immersed in so much of New York’s history while following the FBI investigation as they search, not only for the killer’s lair, but also for potential crime scenes that could fit the killer’s apparent criteria. It was clear the author had done her homework when it came to researching the history, especially when it came to what might be buried beneath the city.
My biggest issue with A Perfect Obsession was that even though the story itself was entertaining, the characters themselves were not well-developed and so I had a hard time connecting with any of them. For that reason, the story definitely reminded me of a procedural crime drama. I don’t know if it’s a case where these characters are more fleshed out in the first book of the series, which I haven’t read, but in the second book, what I found was a riveting criminal case but unfortunately forgettable characters. (That said, even though this is the second book in a series, overall it still works well as a standalone.)
Kieran and Craig, as the main characters, stood out from the rest of the pack. Unfortunately, the main reason they stood out for me was because I often found them annoying. I appreciated Craig’s concern for Kieran’s safety, but after a while, his whole “Oh no, my girlfriend’s so pretty, she might become a victim of the serial killer. I must constantly tell her not go to anywhere alone” routine just got old. And as if he wasn’t irritating enough, Kieran was so stubborn about going out alone and going to places she has no business going, that it almost seemed like she was deliberately trying to put herself out there as a possible target. By about the halfway point of the book, I just wanted to knock both of their heads together.
Another issue I had was that there were just too many times where Kieran and her family members conveniently came across things that could help the FBI investigation. New York is a huge city filled with millions of people. What are the odds that it would always be Kieran or one of her brothers who would come across valuable clues?
Even with the issues I had with it, I still thought A Perfect Obsession was a solid read. If you’re looking for memorable characters that you can connect with, this may not be your book, but if you love a good mystery and want to immerse yourself in some New York history, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book.
RATING: 3 STARS
Thanks so much to Netgalley, Heather Graham, and Mira Books for allowing me to preview a copy of this book. This in no way impacts my review.
Someone is murdering beautiful young women in the New York area and displaying them in mausoleums and underground tombs. The FBI is handling the case, with Special Agent Craig Frasier as lead.
Kieran Finnegan, forensic psychologist and part owner of Finnegan’s, her family’s pub, is consulting on the case. Craig and Kieran are a couple who’ve worked together on more than one occasion. On this occasion, though, Craig fears for the safety of the woman he loves. Because the killer is too close. The body of a young model is found in a catacomb under a two-hundred-year-old church, now deconsecrated and turned into a nightclub. A church directly behind Finnegan’s in lower Manhattan.
As more women are murdered, their bodies discovered in underground locations in New York, it’s clear that the police and the FBI are dealing with a serial killer. Craig and Kieran are desperate to track down the murderer, a man obsessed with female perfection. Obsessed enough to want to “preserve” that beauty by destroying the women who embody it”