By JoAnn Chaney
Published by Flatiron Books
on March 7, 2017
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
The last victims of an infamous serial killer on death row may be the ones he didn't kill. Seven years ago, Detective Paul Hoskins and his larger-than-life partner solved one of the biggest serial murder cases of the decade. They dug up 33 bodies in a crawl space belonging to the beloved Jacky Seever, a pillar of the community and a successful businessman. Sammie Peterson was the lead reporter on the case. Her byline was on the front page of the newspaper every day. Seever’s wife, Gloria, claimed to be as surprised as everyone else.
Today, Hoskins has been banished to cold cases, Sammie is selling make-up at the mall, and Gloria is trying to navigate a world where she can’t escape condemnation. And Seever? He’s watching the show.
But when a series of new murders occur, and the victims are all somehow connected to Seever, Gloria is once again thrust into the spotlight, while Hoskins and Sammie realize this may be their chance to get their lives back, even if it means forfeiting their humanity in the process.
I’ve said it a lot lately, but I’ve been on a mega mystery/thriller streak this year with my reading. And What You Don’t Know is a book that I’d heard a lot about, including that it was dark and gripping. Having read it in one day, I have to agree!
I love that this story starts off at what would typically be the end of a book like this, with bodies uncovered and a serial killer arrested, and convicted. But then we fast forward a few years, following three different people (one of the detectives who arrested the killer but now works in the basement; a reporter who no longer writes for the paper; and the killer’s seemingly oblivious wife) as the killer’s execution date approaches, and eerily similar murders begin to occur, which seem to be inextricably linked to the killer behind bars.
This is a mystery (although it was pretty clear to me who the culprit was – but there are some good red herrings thrown in), but it was also a gripping character study. Everyone involved in the case has changed in the years since, and some not for the better. It was such an interesting look at what happens to people after a case is broken and an arrest is made – what happens to the detectives who, to investigate and arrest a killer, need to become uncomfortably close to one? What happens to the reporters who make their careers by writing about the grisly details? What happens to those closest to the killer, who profess not to know anything despite the public’s insistence to the contrary?
This is really great. And it’s JoAnn Chaney’s debut! I am definitely looking forward to what she writes next. Highly recommended!