My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In 1938, at the height of the Great Depression, a madman hunts his victims through the hobo jungles of Cleveland, terrorizing the city. Ethel Harding, a prostitute struggling to survive both the cold streets and the Torso Killer, takes refuge with a devout missionary sect—only to find that its righteous facade conceals the darkest of secrets.
Sixty years later, the police find the butchered body of Alfred Wiley in the woods. But before his daughter, Kris, can even identify the remains, things he never told her begin to surface one by one—a mysterious private eye who’d been tracking him, an eerie website devoted to the unsolved “Torso” murders, missing archives, stolen books, and an abandoned Bible factory harboring vagrants. The more she learns about her father’s obsession with the Torso Killer, the more Alfred’s death appears to be related, pulling Kris further into Cleveland’s hellish past.
Living decades apart, Ethel and Kris must unravel the truth behind the city’s most notorious serial killer…or die trying.
I read The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley in 2015 and it was a good book, but it was the second book The Buried Book that really made an impression on me. So, when I saw this books cover and read the blurb did I know I just had to read it.
I have a thing for dual storylines so I was quite thrilled to get a story that is both sets in 1938 and in 1999. This is quite a dark story, with both women from different periods getting involved in the Torso killings. Ethel Harding lives a hard life a prostitute and by accident does she get involved when she sees and hears things she shouldn't. 60 years later and Kris Wiley learns that there is a possibility that the butchered remains of a body is her father. But, there are odd things in her father's life and she learns things that make her wonder if she knew the man at all.
The Unclaimed Victim is a bleak book. The story is interesting, it just never gets really thrilling to read. I found the pacing of the story slow and there came a moment when I had read half the book, and I just was unsure if it was worth continuing. Thankfully, I kept going and the last part of the book was better with a faster pace and revelations that I didn't expect. I think what the book lacks is suspense. I mean it has everything for a good creepy setting, a spooky big old house where one easily can get lost in. But, I never felt that it got under my skin and to be honest neither Kris nor Ethel really made an impression on me. Truthfully, I found that the 1938 storyline worked not as well as the one in 1999. I can see the necessity to have it, but everything the story shifted did I wait for it to go back to 1999.
Still, as I wrote above was it worth reading the book. I did not expect the twist that came towards the end of the book and I love it when I get surprised like that. I liked how the book was set in 1999, it's not that long ago, but reading this book makes me realize how much has happened since then. I look forward to reading the next book D.M. Pulley will publish.
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!