No One Kows You’re Here
By Rachell Howzell
Freelance writer Syeeda Mckay is still recovering from breast cancer surgery when she receives a text from someone who claims to have information regarding a serial killer who has been shooting black prostitutes in Los Angeles for twenty years. McKay, who has been investigating these slayings for another book, agrees to meet the woman but discovers her murdered in a manner similar to the other victims. This woman, Tamar Haist, however, was a minister’s daughter and McKay soon discovers she was far from being a holy preacher’s child. While McKay discovers the life Haist led before her death, a college classmate shows up. Toni Fortune had dated and finally married a man who continually was unfaithful. Soon another college buddy, Krystal, shows up to try to put McKay ‘on the straight and narrow’. Krystal was a drunk and prostituted herself through college. As the days pass and more victims are discovered, McKay starts uncovering complex connections between Haist, Toni, and Krystal. The killer of Haist may not have killed the previous prostitutes. Syeeda soon finds herself target by the man she has named the Phanton Slayer.
This plot was inspired by true events. It’s a little bit different from some of the other serial killer mysteries or thrillers in regards to setting and characters.
Syeeda McKay: 38, black, barely 5’4”, not muscular, freelance writer, former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has two published novels including one that was made into a movie, father dead from smoking, brother is a movie director, sister is an FBI profiler, trying to quit smoking, recently had breast cancer surgery, drives a Mercedes
Adam Sherwood: LA detective, mixed race parents, has a law degree, green eyes, 6’3”, boyfriend of McKay’s even though they’re having issues.
Spencer Brooks: Black, coroner, 6’, 140 pounds, strong-willed, bourbon colored eyes, doesn’t talk much
There are some pretty well defined characters and I liked them. I wasn’t sure about McKay attitude toward her college buddies based on how they acted. It seemed a little off. I felt the characters expressed the black culture very well, both from attitudes within and without. I wanted to see more from Spencer because I liked his character.
There are instances of ‘black’ slang and inflections. McKay can be soft-hearted and empathetic when speaking to family members and no-nonsense when dealing with those she feels wronged her. Many attitudes and characters are defined by conversations. Nothing seemed forced.
First person from Syeeda’s POV and present tense third person from the killer’s POV. Some profanity but not overly used. Chapters are of various lengths. Action scenes are quick. As mentioned above, this story was conceived from actual events in Los Angeles and Howzell does a fine job of showing the people, attitudes, emotions, and culture that are beyond the Hollywood glitz. McKay is determined but shows emotion and horror at the crime scenes. The ending was abrupt and my eyes tripped over the laptop when I clicked the next page and found the Afterword. I thought I had missed something. Fairly tight writing, a bit slow in places but the story doesn’t drag. Howzell presents the clues in a logical manner and puts together a complex puzzle and I was surprised when the picture was finally revealed.