Shadowheart by Meg Gardiner, Unsub 4: Serial twists

Shadowheart is the fourth twisting crime mystery and suspense thriller in Meg Gardiner’s bestselling UNSUB series starring FBI behavioural analyst Caitlin Hendrix. Read my review.

Shadowheart by Meg Gardiner, UNSUB Book 4, Book Review

Publication: Blackstone Publishing, June 2024.

Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Action, Thriller

Shadowheart Publisher Synopsis

The UNSUB Series, Book 4

FBI Special Agent Caitlin Hendrix faces a case from nightmares.

In a Tennessee prison, Efrem Judah Goode draws haunting portraits of women he claims he has killed. Around the country, desperate families of the missing seek answers in his eerie drawings. And on darkened back roads and New York City streets, a new killer poses duct-taped bodies at the sites of Goode’s murders.

Two serial killers are locked in a twisted rivalry. To stop the brutal slayings, FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix must unravel the connection between Goode and the Broken Heart Killer. Their warped competition destroys anyone in their path. Caught between a manipulative psychopath and a ruthless UNSUB, Caitlin has to dive into not one, but two dark and twisted minds. She will risk everything, plunging into the depths of their depraved clash to hunt down an unstoppable killer.

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My Review

It had been a decade or more since I’d last read a book by Meg Gardiner, so I jumped at the opportunity to join her latest bestselling series, UNSUB, at Book 4, Shadowheart. I’ve rarely had issue joining a series a few books in, so was undaunted by that context.

The first thing that struck me was Gardiner’s writing style. While highly accessible and descriptive in all the usual places, somehow, as a reader I felt quite removed from the scenes depicted. The second, there is a lot of setup — vignette background scenes and character introductions in disparate places — required to support this novel’s ultimately complex crime plot. Perhaps it was a little more ‘telling’ than ‘showing’, or less nuance in dialogue and variety in descriptors than I have grown to expect from top authors.

Whatever the combination of causes, the execution was a barrier to my whole-hearted engagement with the Shadowheart narrative and its lead characters. Gardiner actually came closer to delivering the character authenticity and emotional spark I was seeking in two of her secondary characters. But unfortunately, to delve further into those would provide spoilers.

That all said, what I did find interesting was the myriad plot threads and the twisted psychology of the antagonists. In the end though, it was my desire to learn how all the puzzle pieces would come together that kept me reading, rather than the thrilling suspense I had originally expected.

But remember, this UNSUB series has been a great commercial success for Meg Gardiner, and just like books 1 to 3, at the time of writing Shadowheart has a 4+ Goodreads rating. So, many readers’ opinions differ from my own on this one.

My Rating

Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5

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UNSUB Book 4

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I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review via NetGalley.