Title: Hunted (Profiler)
Author: Elizabeth Heiter
No. of Pages: 368
Origins: Harlequin MIRA
Release Date: 31 December 2013
Bottom Line: Fun for the psychological thriller fan
“Terror stalks a small Virginia town…
FBI rising star, criminal profiler Evelyn Baine, knows how to think like a serial killer. But she’s never chased anyone like the Bakersville Burier, who hunts young women and displays them, half-buried, deep in the woods. As the body count climbs, Evelyn’s relentless pursuit of the killer puts her career – and her life – at risk. And the evil lurking in the Burier’s mind may be more than even she can unravel.
Terror is closer than she thinks…
The Bakersville Burier knows he’s got an FBI profiler on his trail. He knows who she is and where to find her. And he’s biding his time, because he’s planned a special punishment for Evelyn. She may have tracked other killers, but he vows to make this her last chase. This time it’s her turn to be hunted!”
Thoughts: Evelyn Baine is the type of character that is so easy to pity, which may or may not be Ms. Heiter’s point. Evelyn uses the traumatic loss of her childhood best friend as well as her elfin stature and feminine gender in a masculine world to create a massive barrier around her; in her mind, it is she versus the world, something readers quickly realize are only hampering her rather than helping her. She has so many issues with accepting help from others, with proving herself to her peers and superiors, to beating the bigger and stronger men that one almost wishes someone would profile her so that she can start getting the help she so desperately needs. It is all just a bit too much at times, still enjoyable but just a bit eye-roll worthy for comfort.
The story itself, as well as Evelyn’s job, is truly fascinating. The culprit and his motivations behind his job are horrifying in their depravity and yet surprisingly sympathetic. The idea of looking at all of the evidence and being able to fairly accurately hypothesis on key identifying attitudes and habits of the suspect is mesmerizing. Simultaneously, Ms. Heiter does a fantastic job balancing the psychology with the more realistic disdain and distrust such profiling can create in the lead investigators. The challenges Evelyn faces not in creating her profile but selling it to the investigators and getting them to actually use it are realistic and go far to preventing the story from becoming too idealistic.
Hunted is really nothing more and nothing less than an episode of Criminal Minds with a little bit of Silence of the Lambs thrown into the mix. However, for the right audience, this is a good thing. Evelyn is young, talented, and determined with a chip on her shoulder that prevents her from getting close to anyone. The action is taut, and the tension is thick. The story has its fill of plot twists that keep the story interesting and allow readers to learn a few more clues. If some elements of the story are slightly unbelievable or slightly predictable, that is more a flaw in the design of the character than of the story, as Ms. Heiter tries to make her heroine a bit too talented and capable. Still, fans of psychological thrillers and murder mysteries will enjoy this closer look into profiling and the various FBI units devoted to it, just as they will look forward to seeing which crime Evelyn will tackle next.