Book Review: Find Me, by Anne Frasier
(Inland Empire Book #01) Published July 2020.
A bone-chilling family history is unearthed in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author Anne Frasier.
Convicted serial killer Benjamin Fisher has finally offered to lead San Bernardino detective Daniel Ellis to the isolated graves of his victims. One catch: he’ll only do it if FBI profiler Reni Fisher, his estranged daughter, accompanies them. As hard as it is to exhume her traumatic childhood, Reni can’t say no. She still feels complicit in her father’s crimes.
Perfect to play a lost little girl, Reni was the bait to lure unsuspecting women to their deaths. It’s time for closure. For her. For the families. And for Daniel. He shares Reni’s obsession with the past. Ever since he was a boy, he’s been convinced that his mother was one of Fisher’s victims.
Thirty years of bad memories are flooding back. A master manipulator has gained their trust. For Reni and Daniel, this isn’t the end of a nightmare. It’s only the beginning.
Find Me is a rare crime fiction thriller where gratuitous and graphic violence is simply not needed. Author Anne Frasier, by merely alluding to murderous horrors, lets the reader’s imagination see what it will, resulting in a menacing, skin-crawling tale of murder, family ties, and the depths one will go for personal atonement. Well-plotted with a fantastic twist, Find Me is a chilling and dark series debut in the Inland Empire series.
Reni Fisher was only a child when her father used her as bait to lure young women to their deaths. Since her father, the Inland Empire Killer, was incarcerated, Reni has lived with trauma and guilt, suffered a mental breakdown that cost her job at the FBI as a profiler, and now resides in the desert making pottery. She does not trust herself or others, and lives with the constant conflict of loving her father as she remembers him – sweet, caring, protective – and hating his reality as a notorious serial killer.
“But he’d never fit. A man who loved his family, loved nature, loved sunsets and animals. A man who’d given her the perfect childhood and had adored her. A man who loved and was loved.
And yet he was evil. Maybe the worst kind of evil, because it had hidden right in front of her and tricked her child’s heart.”
San Bernardino Detective Daniel Ellis is a man suffering a trauma of his own: he believes his mother was a victim of Ben Fisher. His mother’s disappearance has shaped Daniel into the detective he is today and, clutching a scrap of material from the last dress his mother ever wore, he has spent a lifetime and his career searching for her.
Reni and Daniel’s worlds collide when Ben Fisher agrees to reveal the locations of his victim’s bodies, scattered in shallow graves across the Mojave Desert, under one condition: his daughter, Reni, comes along for the ride. As somewhat predicted, Fisher uses the opportunity out of high security prison to take his own life, but not before leaving Reni a crudely drawn map marked with the victims’ locations.
When the first spot on the map reveals the body of a recently murdered investigative journalist – an impossible victim of the incarcerated Ben Fisher – things start to unravel and turn very, very dark.
Anne Frasier is a very astute author and I find her writing articulate and concise. I enjoyed the way she portrayed childhood trauma and its impact in later life differently for both Reni and Daniel, and I felt their characters were well-balanced and suited in their values and outlooks (I hope they get together!). Mental health is a prevailing theme throughout Find Me, as well as the immoral ferocity of the media when it came to hunting down a story, and both concepts were handled sensitively and with poignancy. The book is dotted with flashbacks, often from the point of view of Reni or Daniel during childhood, and the result is random splinters of ice and heartbreak that puncture throughout. There is little actual violence, but what horrors are alluded to – not to mention the emotional depravity and downright evilness of using a child as lure – is creepy and chilling.
I thought I had nailed the plot of Find Me and felt pretty smug when my predictions proved themselves to be true halfway through the book. Then came the final act and a stunning right hook of a twist came out of no where and caught me square on the chin (I even had those little cartoon birdies dancing round my head!). I mean, wow. So clever and sneaky and curse me for not paying attention!