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Douglas Wood
The Shakespeare Killer
Douglas Wood, author
The first victim is Jacob Schneider- a prominent criminal defense attorney. His death is ruled a suicide by authorities, just like all the other defense attorneys who have died recently. However, when Special Agent Chris DiMeglio gets on the case, he receives a tip from a local reporter who suspects these deaths are connected. Between the victim profiles, the suicide notes, and the unusual methods of death, it soon becomes obvious the FBI has yet another serial killer on their hands. The Shakespeare Killer is a new mystery from Douglas J. Wood featuring Special Agent Chris DiMeglio. This case is particularly sadistic and soon DeMiglio starts receiving texts referencing Shakespearean characters and a clear motive to "kill all the lawyers." With the lives of so many at stake, DiMeglio is forced to play a heart-pounding, cat and mouse game to find the culprit and stop the killing.
Wood’s gripping second thriller featuring FBI profiler Christopher DiMeglio (after Blood on the Bayou) finds its hero reluctantly investigating a serial killer targeting criminal defense attorneys, one seemingly inspired by the Bard’s oft-quoted Henry VI line: “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” Alerted by San Diego-based reporter Carla Lane that someone’s possibly putting that suggestion into practice, and pressed by her into taking action, Chris is soon jolted out of his duties of serving as a poster boy trying to boost the reputation of the beleaguered agency on talk shows and 60 Minutes. Complicating matters: Carla’s going to work the case with his team.

Once the story moves past media appearances and Chris’s initial dismissal of the case, Wood, a longtime attorney, keeps the pace brisk, only faltering in some info dumps about the psychology and modus operandi of serial killers. As Chris begins to know more about the killer through disturbing conversations on the encrypted-messaging app Signal, he suspects that the killer must be a woman Shakespeare enthusiast who is wealthy, intelligent, and tech savvy. But as a colleague points out, Carla fits all those criteria, too, besides being Chris’ love interest and intellectual sparring partner.

Chris remains a compelling protagonist, and Wood deftly handles the uneasy relationship between feds and the media. The story, laced with references to Shakespeare’s plays, takes surprising detours, from the small Kansas town that is the home of 20th century American literature’s most famous murder to an engaging sojourn to Italy. Seasoned procedural fans may pick up on red herrings that could have used more development, but Wood’s brisk dialogue, vivid detail, and deep familiarity with the world of criminal defense keep the pages turning. Stories of profilers and killers may be familiar, but Wood brings welcome authority to the material, while exploring ethical questions about the defense of people who commit unspeakable crimes and sometimes go free on the basis of technicalities.

Takeaway: Arresting thriller pitting a profiler against a Bard-loving killer.

Comparable Titles: Tami Hoag’sAshes to Ashes, Simon Toyne’s Laughton Rees series.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A