The Confessor by Sarah MarkelThe Confessor by Sarah Markel is a thriller featuring a married Detective working with an FBI agent to chase down a serial killer.

Cordelia Weston is a happily married detective who is tasked, along with her partner Gibson Price, with finding a serial killer who has eluded capture for 15 years. When it becomes clear that the killer hasn’t been as inactive as they thought, the FBI is assigned, and the lead agent has a personal connection to Cordelia’s beloved wife.

As the hunt for the serial killer gets more intense, everything seems to be much closer to home than Cordelia is comfortable with. The Confessor, so named because the victims are forced to confess their wrongdoings before their deaths, appears to have connections to people Cordelia loves and trusts, and her struggle with this intensifies as she gets closer to identifying the killer.

Can Cordelia identify and finally capture this elusive killer? Or will the possible personal connection turn out to be her undoing?

The Characters

Cordelia is written really well. Focused and driven, she is everything you expect from a Police detective, however she has a really sweet and gentle side that shows in her interactions with her wife, Jenica. I would like to see more books written about these two, because I think they balance nicely, and I suspect there is much more to their story than this book reveals.

Jenica is exactly what you expect from the wife of a cop. Down-to-earth, spiritual, a gentle soul, Jenica grew up in New Zealand but spent time in the US, and became friends with Oakley in her youth. Jenica is the voice of reason for Cordelia, and encourages Cordelia to talk about her job enough that we get a solid glimpse into the way Cordelia’s mind works. Great character and relationship development from Markel.

Oakley is the FBI agent tasked with helping Cordelia track down the Confessor, and she also happens to be a childhood friend of Cordelia’s wife. Oakley is all business at work, but you get the very real sense that she too is a very down-to-earth type, and her social interactions reflect a much calmer, more relaxed person than you might expect to see from an FBI agent in a thriller novel.

Oakley’s wife, Stormie, has a personal connection to Jenica too. Stormie and Oakley haven’t always had an easy marriage, but it is clear that Stormie loves her wife very much. Very much a character that ties other characters together, Stormie is intriguing from the start, and I would love to see a prequel to this book, even as a short story, that gives us more information about the earlier years of Stormie and Oakley’s marriage.

The Writing Style

The pacing of this book is really good, though I felt like the climax was quite slow in coming (perhaps because I had guessed the killer), but it was twisty enough to feel satisfied in the end.

The Pros

Despite guessing fairly early who the killer was, I could never have guessed the path Markel would take with the storyline, and I love that she had the courage to veer from the usual crime debut formula and try something different. I look forward to seeing what comes from this author in the future!

The Cons

There are almost solely lesbian and gay couples in this book. Some people won’t see that as a con, but I find that it always stretches my belief a little too far when that is the case. 

As a New Zealander, the only other thing that really got me was that Jenica was Maori, and very proud of that heritage, yet her name didn’t reflect it at all.

Such a picky reader I am!! Beyond that, I thought this was a very well written debut thriller!

The Conclusion

The Confessor is a really solid thriller with engaging characters, an intriguing plot, and enough twists and surprises to make you want to read it again. I highly recommend you pick this one up, and keep an eye on what comes out in future from Sarah Markel… I feel like she is only going to get better!

Excerpt from The Confessor

Cordy leaned a bit closer and watched as Lita painstakingly removed a photograph from deep inside the victim’s trachea. Cordy grabbed an evidence bag and held it open for Lita.

“There’s more,” Lita commented, using the hemostats to remove a second photograph and a cell phone. All three items were encased in thin plastic baggies.

“Oh, shit,” Lita said, her eyes going wide behind the clear shield protecting her face, “he’s back.”

“Who’s back?” Cordy asked, confusion dancing across her face.

“You need to talk to Brandon,” Lita said as she signed the now-sealed evidence bags, “I’ll call him and tell him what I found.”

Cordy took the evidence bags and made a note in her notepad. “Lita, who is ‘he’?”

“The Confessor,” Lita replied, her soft features hardening.

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