The Devil You Know by Emma Kavanagh: Brimming with menace and stunning plot twists - book review -

Fast-paced thriller which moves from the home of a young psychology student in Madison, Wisconsin, to a small Canadian town where dark secrets from her past are just waiting to be resurrected.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 7:00 am
The Devil You Know
The Devil You Know

Thriller fans know that the best crime fiction comes from the sharpest minds…

A former police and military psychologist, Welsh-born Emma Kavanagh has taught police officers and NATO personnel about the psychology of extreme situations, and now she is using her knowledge and experience to pen heart-stopping murder mysteries.

This is an author who looks deep into the complexities of a murderer’s mind… she knows how they think, their obsessions, what makes them tick, and what makes them kill, and it’s this talent that has made her mind game thrillers so exciting and startlingly authentic.

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But Kavanagh also displays her mastery of the science of fear, the corrosive fall-out from paranoia, and the sheer power of atmospheric storytelling as she brings us the second book in a loose trilogy which began with To Catch a Killer and follows the trail of a terrifying but elusive killer.

Brimming with menace and stunning plot twists, The Devil You Know is a page-turning, fast-paced thriller which moves from the home of a young psychology student in Madison, Wisconsin, to a small Canadian town where dark secrets from her past are just waiting to be resurrected.

Rosa Fisher has always been the smart girl, the good girl, ‘the baby’ of her family. She was the first one to go to university and at twenty-five and midway through a PhD in the psychology of fraud, she is enjoying studying a topic that has always fascinated her… ‘bad guys.’

Rosa’s siblings have both flown the nest and now she lives with her needy, widowed mother whose warm embrace has started to feel more like ‘a stranglehold.’

Even so, she thinks she has herself and her life all worked out until a terrifying night when her mother is in hospital, she is all alone, the house is dark, and she hears an intruder on the stairs.

Injured during the events of that night, Rosa ends up in hospital where a blood test reveals that she isn’t who she thought she was and, intuitively, she knows immediately that everything has suddenly gone from ‘bad to catastrophically bad.’

But along with the discovery that she must have been adopted and that her life has been ‘an extended series of lies,’ Rosa also knows that the intruder wasn’t looking for Rosa Fisher, he was after someone else.

Determined to find out who she really is, Rosa traces her origins back to a small Canadian town, to a fire in a barn and a devastating family tragedy. Forced to ask questions about herself, Rosa travels to Ontario to find answers but a killer called Jackson Wolf is on her trail… and he has her in his sights.

Kavanagh delivers a classic psychological mystery, woven through with chills, thrills and intrigue, and exploring the universal concepts of good versus bad and nature versus nurture.

Apart from the fascinating mind play of the shadowy and utterly deadly Jackson Wolf, The Devil You Know also brings us the enigma that is Rosa… a complex and often contradictory victim of post-traumatic stress disorder trying to make sense both of her family history and the danger that is fast engulfing her.

Set against a landscape that itself becomes a character, this gripping, white-knuckle rollercoaster ride opens with a night of mystery, followed swiftly by a night of terror, and ends with a twist that will leave you gasping for the next riveting chapter.

(Orion, paperback, £8.99)