The Admirer by Karelia Stetz-WatersThe Admirer by Karelia Stetz-Waters is a psychological thriller featuring a serial killer on a college campus.

Helen Ivers took on the role of President at Pittock College following the tragic suicide of her sister. But now a serial killer is hunting women near the isolated college campus, and amputating their legs. Helen embarks on her own investigation, but the recent trauma of losing her sister brings nightmares and waking hallucinations, and Helen cannot get anyone to believe her.

Adair Wilson is a young theatre professor who comes to Helen’s attention when she discovers evidence of the killings, and then becomes the only person who believes Helen could be on to something.

Can Helen convince the authorities that she is on the path to the truth? Or will the unusual chemistry she experiences with the unpopular and eccentric Adair derail any chance Helen has of being believed?

The Characters

Helen is a bit of a mess, but it is exactly that part of her character that had me rooting for her. I got a clear sense of the trauma Helen has experienced, both in her recent past and when she was much younger, and I enjoyed the way the author built up the layers of her character whilst simultaneously stripping layers away.

Adair is an enigma, and I would have liked to learn more about her. Passionate, eccentric, and more than a little odd, Adair is exactly what the author intends her to be, and perhaps a little more. As the story goes on, it gets harder to know whether to like or loathe her character, but I decided at the end that perhaps that is simply part of her charm. While I didn’t always like or condone her behavior, Adair is a complex woman simply looking to be understood and cared for. I loved the way her story weaved it’s magical way through this book.

The Writing Style

The pace of the storyline is slower than I liked at first, but in the end the story finished faster than I was ready for it to finish. Perfectly paced for a psychological thriller, with excellent building of layers in the plot, then a climax that you likely won’t see coming.

The Pros

I loved that this book had real depth in the plot, and also in the characters. I felt like I was reading a mainstream psychological thriller, and the level of romantic interest was just enough that I knew it was there, but the real star of the book was the thriller plot. Perfect.

The Cons

This is a typical psychological thriller in many ways, and includes violence towards women. There is also several scenes that feature sexual violence, heterosexual sex, or questionably consensual sex.

erins favourite booksThe Conclusion

This is a psychological thriller quite unlike any other I have read in the lesbian fiction genre. A unique and disturbing premise, this book is an excellent example of a well put together storyline, excellent characters, and enough twists and surprises to keep the most avid thriller reader guessing. There is definitely sensitive content which makes this book something not everyone will enjoy, but I loved it.

Excerpt from The Admirer by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Helen had to hand it to Wilson; her search seemed as well organized as anything the police had mounted. She’d gathered her students on the path near the railroad tracks and was pairing them off when Helen arrived. Everyone, including Wilson, wore blue latex gloves. One student in each pair carried a fistful of orange marking flags. Some students had already planted flags in the ground near the path. A few more stood in the woods.

Wilson projected her voice like a drill sergeant. “I want a line from here to there.” Wilson pointed.

The students giggled as they jostled into line.

“This is not a joke.” Wilson pulled a whistle out of her pocket. The students fell silent. “Imagine you have a box around you, twenty feet on each side. This is how far you can be from your neighbor. Do not go in or near the asylum.”

Turning to survey her crew, Wilson caught sight of Helen. Their eyes met for a second, then Wilson turned away.

“It is not safe to go in or near the asylum.” Wilson repeated. “What did I just say?”

The students answered loudly in unison.

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