Finally Done: Dead Letters by Tom Piccirilli, 2006, 9780553384079.
I write "finally done" because I bought this book several months ago. The mystery bookstore in Madison was bought and moved location across the street from Trader Joe's. While my wife was in the Trader Joe's I walked two bored children over to check the bookstore out. Since I work in a freaking library I do not like to buy books. But, the store was brand new and I wanted to support it. Luckily, I found something worth buying.
Piccirilli has the market cornered on Really Angry Men Riven With Guilt. Correction: Really Angry Men Riven With Guilt and Living on Long Island. Piccirilli also creates really despicable villains.
Five years ago Whitt's 5-year-old daughter was the first victim of a serial killer nicknamed Killjoy. Whitt's wife went insane with grief and Whitt quit his advertising job to focus on physical training and hunting for Killjoy. Whitt has had an unhappy but workable relationship with the local police detective assigned the case. Things get worse for Whitt when Killjoy stops killing children and starts kidnapping. Killjoy takes the children from abusive homes and "gifts" them to the still grieving parents of Killjoy's murder victims.
Whitt was the first parent to receive a child from Killjoy. Whitt immediately called the police and is not sure if he should have kept the girl instead. Some parents of Killjoy's murder victims have disappeared, presumably fleeing with kidnapped children left by Killjoy.
Whitt's guilt and anger have left him pretty screwed up. Whitt's wife lives in a mental hospital, his father-in-law financially supports Whitt's hunt, Whitt has maintained only one pre-Killjoy relationship. Whitt's rage manifests in extreme teeth grinding. He pops fillings loose. He chomps on his steering wheel and cracks more teeth. He lays on the lawn while spying on a family and gnashes grass and dirt.
Part of Whitt's rage is that for years Killjoy has been sending bizarre and insanely rambling letters to Whitt. Taken by themselves the letters are a silly read of made up philosophers and writers acting bizarrely. But, those bizarre letters are a taunt to Whitt from a man - a woman? - who fancies that he and Whitt are much alike and friends.
Anyway. Whitt goes to a house run by a cult. The cult is responsible for several murders and Killjoy puts Whitt on their scent. Killjoy's knowledge about the cult shows he surveilled them for a long time and Whitt hopes that by investigating them he will find Killjoy.
Things happen. Whitt grinds teeth. Whitt hallucinates conversations with a mini-Whitt living in his daughter's doll house. Whitt dreams of killing Killjoy. Whitt trains with his .32 pistol. Whitt interviews cult members. Whitt is suspected by the police of being Killjoy and now has a new Federal agent on his back. There is a showdown and Killjoy escapes. Whitt finally figures things out.
1. Piccirilli also has the market cornered on Author Diagnosed With Brain Cancer Given 2% Chance of Survival and Recovers Anyway.
2. Seriously. The man was diagnosed with brain cancer and given a 2% chance of survival. Piccirilli has been cancer free for two years and still undergoes monthly chemotherapy treatment but the man is working and doing well.
3. No muscle cars in this one. Whitt would derive no joy from a car anyway. Whitt's only joy is from revenge fantasies.