Friday, January 27, 2023

The Stowaway by James Murray and Darren Wearmouth


Wyatt Butler sits in a courtroom, charged as a serial killer who terrorized and brutally killed eight children.  Maria Fontana is one of the unfortunate jury who has to listen to the grisly details and look at the horrendous photographs.  Butler is the opposite of remorseful.  Everyone expects a quick verdict from the jury but they are hung.  Eleven for guilty, one innocent.  The end result is that Butler is set free.

The press is determined to find out who the lone juror was who set Butler free.  After weeks of being hounded by the press, Maria holds a press conference and states that she was the innocent vote.  She is reviled in the press and in a book written about the case.  Victims hold her in disgust and blame her.  She was the head of the psychology department at Columbia University, but all the publicity leads the administration to make her take an unplanned year long sabbatical. 

At the end of her sabbatical, Maria goes on a cruise with her eleven year old twins and her fiancé.  They have fun at first but then strange things start to happen on the cruise.  A death is reported then a child goes overboard during the night.  Maria starts to suspect that Butler is on the cruise and as more and more deaths occur, even the ship's security force agrees.  He seems to be targeting Maria and her family.  Can he be found before he kills again?

This was a suspenseful novel.  Butler was an archetypical killer with the added horror of choosing child victims.  There are lots of twists and turns and surprises and the reader is compelled to continue to find out what will happen next and whether Maria can find the killer.  I listened to this novel and the narrator's voice was effective at building suspense.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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