Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

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Release date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Dutton Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss? 


Having seen every single episode of Criminal Minds I like to fancy myself an amateur behavior analyst. Not in the sense that I can actually analyze human behavior with any skill, but more along the lines of; I know the right terminology and how profiling works in a general way. So the minute I saw the title of this I was interested, Unsub stands for unknown subject and my hours of watching CM taught me this along with terms like victimology and escalation. This stuff fascinates me and UNSUB read just like one manic episode of one of my favorite shows. 

Caitlin is a new officer and this is her first major case. I really liked her as a lead, she’s strong yet vulnerable inside, and she’s also super sharp and witty. The mix of her personal and professional lives was perfectly balanced, and her fathers connection to the Prophet killer was a nice addition. 

The construction of this complicated plot was totally brilliant, the first half is fast paced enough, but around the halfway point things really get kicked into high gear and the tension is through the roof. It’s a deadly game of cat and mouse and the pacing is relentless. The Prophet was one of the scariest fictional killers I’ve ever come across, for as much as I read books with serial killers I normally don’t get that frightened but I have to admit that I was scared witless this time! He’s meticulous, ruthless, calculated and cunning and though he’s laid low for twenty years, he’s back with a vengeance. History is repeating itself in the worst possible way and things come to a head in an explosive, gripping conclusion. 

I’ve been deliberately vague in terms of the plot, but trust me when I say, if you like serial killer novels or shows, this is a must read! 

Overall rating: 5/5

24 thoughts on “Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

  1. theresajs says:

    Great review!
    Because of this, I just placed a hold at the library for it! I have read all of Meg’s other books and really liked them!! I’m so excited she has a new one!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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