A Map of the Dark is the first novel in a new series (The Searchers) from Karen Ellis. (A nom de plume of Katia Lief)
FBI Agent Elsa Myers specializes in missing children. She's good at her job. But when she's asked to take on the case of a young woman most likely taken by a serial killer, she hesitates. Her father is dying and this is bringing the past she has tried to bury back to the surface. She does take the case, thinking she can handle both, but her carefully constructed defenses begin to crumble. Ellis's prologue opens the book with the crime.
Ellis has created a flawed lead character in Elsa. I liked her right away, but was caught off guard by her dark personal secrets. Ellis reveals Elsa's backstory through past and present chapters. (I did have some questions as to how such a wounded psych could end up in such a job). The victim of the crime is also given a voice - and the hope that she might still be found. Elsa is paired up with a new partner named Lex that only adds to her stress. Although he says and does all the right things, I just wasn't sold on him.
Ellis seems to be setting the stage for this new series in A Map of the Dark. Establishing Elsa as a character and setting the background seemed to (for me) take more precedence than the crime. The crime itself is somewhat familiar in tone. There are some convenient plot devices that made if perhaps a little too easy for law enforcement. There is a twist at the end, but astute readers will most likely suss it out before the reveal.
A Map of the Dark is a solid read and will appeal to those who enjoy characterizations more than the mystery. Me? I like the mystery and the solving of the crimes.
Read an excerpt of A Map of The Dark. You can connect with Karen Ellis on her website and follow her on Twitter.