The Watson Girl, by Leslie Wolfe
Four out of five stars
This story features FBI Special Agent Tess Winnett, talented at her job, but with a record of several kills that were investigated and labelled justified. She is a victim herself, suffers from PTSD and is insufferably pushy. Tess has annoyed all of her co-workers, yet is tolerated because she has a track record of results.
Years earlier, there was a home invasion at the Watson home, with a male stalker killing everyone he thought was in the house, gunshots to the father and children, stabbing the wife. However, a young girl survived by hiding in the clothes hamper and she is now an adult. Since the killings, she has been given the label “Watson Girl.” Adopted by the family of her father’s business partner, she has become a functional adult with problems.
There is a serial killer that has been labeled “The Family Man,” (Garza) for he kills entire families and then sits them down around the dinner table and eats meals with them. He also sleeps in their beds, departing after a few days. Garza is now close to being executed for over thirty such crimes and Tess is assigned what is ordinarily a routine task. That job is to interview the condemned man in the hope of extracting any possible information.
Tess is surprised when Garza informs her that there are three crimes that he is accused of committing that he did not do. In a point of irony, Garza’s argument is that he never stooped to raping the women. One of the crimes he claimed he did not do was the Watson murders. Acting on a gut instinct, Tess examines the files and notes some significant discrepancies. She presses her case hard, upsetting other officers, for they realize that they were indeed sloppy in their procedure when they flagged Garza as the perpetrator.
This then leads to the obvious conclusion that there is a second serial killer, one that used the cover of the Family Man to deflect the investigations. The cases are reopened and Tess pushes everyone to the point of frustration while she deals with her own victimhood.
For reasons that I cannot explain, I identified the second killer very early. Yet, there was a related plot twist that was completely unexpected. The adage of the the greatest psychopaths being some of the best actors and that there are killers among us are essential parts of the plot. FBI profiling being a fairly exact science is also featured.
The story never builds to an intense climax, where there is a sequene of scenes that build the tension. It is a good story that keeps your interest, but the descriptions of even the most significant actions did not push my emotional buttons.