Thursday, September 27, 2012


By Jennifer Hillier
New York, Gallery Books, 2012
335 pages     Fiction

What a great book title: Freak! It is the second in a series of books about a string of serial killings (and serial killers). I reviewed the first book Creep last year, and already I am wondering what the third book will be called. I’ve been running five letter words through my mind that have to do with serial killers. I can’t come up with one, although I am sure that Hillier has.

Freak picks up where Creep left off, and although you don’t need to read Creep, you probably don’t want to miss it. I had to read through two or three chapters of Freak before I remembered the characters and the circumstances. Abby Maddox is the girlfriend of Ethan Wolfe, the now-dead serial killer from Creep. Abby is in prison for having attacked Jerry Isaac, the police detective turned PI, who was investigating the murders Wolfe committed. Now, someone is killing prostitutes and carving “Free Abby Maddox” on their backs. Jerry Isaac is called in to investigate and the horrific fun begins again. All the cast of characters from the first book return, including Sheila Tao, the psychology professor, her fiancé Morris, and Jerry’s estranged wife Annie. A new character, Danny Mercy, is introduced, and about half way through the book, the reader begins to get creepy feelings about Danny. Something is just not adding up about her.

Abby Maddox is a very interesting character; she is such an accomplished sociopath that her behavior is almost believable—and I am saying this as if I knew enough about sociopaths to decide if her actions were believable or not. Throughout the book, she is so incredibly clever that the reader is constantly surprised at what she thinks up. Abby is as brilliant as she is beautiful and is a master manipulator. Can a serial killer be an appealing character? 

Hillier says in an interview that as soon as she finished her first novel, Creep, she had to begin the second because she had unfinished business that had to be taken care of, like try to figure out what Abby Maddox was thinking about and what she was capable of. Now, I am worrying about Danny Mercy and wondering what she is capable of…well we already got a glimmer of that in Freak. Danny, however, has a bit of a soft streak to her that Abby does not have. I wonder what that means for book three.

Hmmm…female serial killers. Most serial killers are men, but we all remember Charlize Theron in the movie Monster from 2003. Perhaps as Hillier develops this series of thrillers, we will come to know more about how female serial killers operate. What we know for sure is that Hillier’s next book will be as tightly drawn and finely crafted as her first two books have been.

The reviewer on the Horror News website has this to say: “Thriller author Jennifer Hillier’s Freak can be described in a few words: brilliant, intense, fast-paced, terrifying and an edge of your seat thriller.” I agree and for my readers that love suspense novels, both Creep and Freak really deliver a thrilling experience.

A good summary of Freak can be found on Kirkus Reviews:
 Hillier’s website:

No comments: