Fairest Creatures is a clever but terrifying thriller that pits the wits of a serial killer against the detective in a classic race against the clock fashion.
Set in Cornwall, this story picks up right where the action is, namely, as a victim in the hands of a perverse serial killer. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but in this almost civilized kidnapping, albeit it one in which the victim sits in a leather choker with a gag in her mouth, the threat of violence is everywhere.
And why not, when a hand has recently been found, severed in a glass box, between the roots of a tree, suggesting to DI Brandon Hammett that an old serial killer, the Sleeping Beauty Killer, is back on the scene.
It’s been 23 years since the Sleeping Beauty Killer’s first victim, but he was never caught and it seems that just when everyone has let their guard down and hoped he’d just disappeared, he’s returned.
But the case gets stranger and things aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. It’s not just the hand, but an ear too, and a conch shell. An old-timer in the force remembers the killings the first time around and these aren’t quite the same. The timing is off, the appearance of the hand is too soon. And what else is wrong? What’s really going on here?
Karen Taylor weaves a clever tale here, showing us the story from the perspective of the victims in the killer’s clutches and from the DI investigating, dropping small, well-timed hints as she goes without giving the game away too soon. It’s the story of a crime, and an investigation, but also one of friendships, relationships and power and control. Well-handled and well done. It’s well-plotted, well-timed and very suspenseful.
A big thank you to Karen Taylor and Peter Burnett at Leamington Books for the ARC!