Amanda Kyle Williams is an author with a knack for witty dialog and an ability to create characters who are smart, in some cases odd-balls, and always worth getting to know. Keye for one, is ethnically Chinese, still carrying the baggage associated with the trauma of watching her grandparents be killed by a grocery store robber when she was very young. Adopted by an older Southern white couple, she grew up loving all things Southern, including the food, the culture and the sporty fast cars of her youth. She loves her parents while simultaneously being exasperated, particularly with her mother, every time mom opens her mouth.
Keye's office assistant Neil is a nerdy techno-geek who never saw a password he couldn't get past when he needs to enter a website or database. He also enjoys the occasional recreational drug, and sometimes the occasions come a little too frequently. But he always comes through when Keye needs information that only Neil can succeed at getting.
It appears that Keye's high strung but successful photographer cousin has acquired a stalker and she calls on Keye for help. But Miki also has a drug problem and a flair for the dramatic, so maybe she is imagining some of the drama in her life. In the meantime, Keye's boyfriend, Homicide Lieutenant Aaron Rauser of the Atlanta PD, has a case involving a death by strangulation of a young teen that has some nagging irregularities to it.
All too soon Miki's home becomes a crime scene when a dead body of an old man is found hanging in her home. Keye begins to see possible relationships between the two seemingly disparate murders, and before much time at all has elapsed, even more murders are uncovered. Keye is off and running, analyzing clues and behavior patterns that has her believing they may have a serial killer on their hands. A sense of dread develops as one ominous event after another occurs; Keye begins to think more and more about the pleasure and courage she drew from alcohol, coming perilously close several times to retreating back into that life.
Keye narrates the book and we are thus treated to her thoughts on all things Southern, such as race relations, the weather and green living. In one hilarious thought progression, Williams entertains us through her protagonist Keye with this delightful prose:
Folks with real winters and heavy snows think it's funny that we complain about winter down here, but let me tell you, when the windchill hits you on a little scooter doing thirty-five in a business suit in January, your friggin' lips will freeze to your teeth. I lost five pounds just by shivering. My concern with America's dependency on foreign oil stopped there. (p. 233)
This is fast paced, with lots of twists, lots of great, richly drawn characters, and an ominous and scary villain that seems to stay one step ahead right up to the heart stopping conclusion. Keye Street is a top notch investigator that you will certainly want to see more of, and Amanda Kyle Williams is definitely an author to seek out over and over! Block out some reading time, get your copy of Stranger in the Room and get started now!
I also have a review of Williams' highly acclaimed thriller featuring Keye Street, The Stranger You Seek, so check it out as well. http://vickicgoode.blogspot.com/2011/10/stranger-you-seek-by-amanda-kyle.html