Meg Gardiner
June 13, 2024

Meg Gardiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen thrillers. Her latest is Heat 2, co-written with Michael Mann. The AP says: “‘Heat 2’ is just dynamite.” It debuted at #1 on the NYT best seller list. Her previous novel, The Dark Corners of the Night, featuring FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix, was bought by Amazon Studios for development as a television series. The first novel in the series, UNSUB, won the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller.

A graduate of Stanford Law School in California, Meg practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She lived for many years in Southern England, and currently resides in Austin, Texas.

Interview by Elise Cooper

Q: What do you want to say about your heroine?
Meg: The heroine, Caitlin Hendrix, is an FBI profiler whose job is to hunt serial killers. This new one is book four. Book three was intense even for the heroine and it takes Caitlin to the edge. It is about someone who sneaks into people’s windows in the middle of the night and kills them. In this book Caitlin is improving her mental and physical health. She has a fear of repeating her father’s mistakes, not wanting to become obsessive. She is more mature as a person and an investigator. She knows she must keep herself balanced and works on improving her skills.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Meg: It started when I read a real-life case. All the Unsub books have a kernel of a case that I drew upon for authenticity. In this case there was a convicted killer, Samuel Little, who started drawing sketches of women and told his jailer that these were people he killed. He was convicted of murder, but the sketches were of people he had killed across the country. A lot of times nobody knew these people were missing. From there the ‘what if’ took over in my mind.

Q: Did the ‘what if’ pertain to the killer Efrem Judah Goode?
Meg: What if a fictional convict claims he has created a trail of carnage across the country? What would motivate him to confess: ego, mind games, or a manipulative psychopath? If he is behind bars does that make him harmless? What if a copycat decides to emulate him?

Q: How would you describe Goode?
Meg: Goode is bad. He is confident, bold, manipulative, a narcissist, sly, controlling, and he likes to improvise.

Q: How would you describe the copycat, The Broken Heart Killer?
Meg: Caitlin assumes them to be a copycat, but they turn out to be much more. They are methodical, orderly, well-informed, patient, tactical, likes to dominate, reckless, ruthless, and devious.

Q: Are your books like Batman stories where the bad guys never seem to go away?
Meg: There is always a separate case in each story. There will be loose ends. She will solve the case and justice will be done, but as in real life there are fragments of loose ends out there. Some bad guys got their due, but others live to do havoc on another day. But Goode will not be seen for a while and is controlled by the warden.

Q: How about Corliss?
Meg: Caitlin discovers she is Goode’s traveling companion and lover. She is unpredictable, wild, hypnotic, a control freak, confident, and can be cold. She flips between love and hate.

Q: How would you describe the adopted mom, Annie?
Meg: She is tough, loyal, caring, determined, and dedicated. She has a lot of secrets she is hiding.

Q: What about her daughter Finch who thinks one of Goode’s victims is her real mom?
Meg: She is impulsive, questioning, determined, and tries to connect the dots.

Q: Why did you include Bob Dylan quotes?
Meg: There were two. One at the beginning of the book, “I pay in blood, but not my own,” and “blood means mine.” I am a fan of his but not a superfan. I thought these quotes are mysterious and ominous. This is the mood I wanted to set at the beginning of the book. The killers have a blood rivalry.

Q: Please explain the Ghost versus the Prophet.
Meg: Unsub, the first book in the series has the Prophet as a legendary serial killer. This was the case Caitlin’s father was unable to break. The Prophet has an accomplice, the Ghost who has their own agenda. She is trying to figure out if he is the bomber and how to capture him.

Q: What can you tell us about your next books?
Meg: I am writing another novel in collaboration with Michael Mann. It will be an international manhunt thriller. In August 2022 the book Heat 2 came out, a prequel and sequel to the movie “Heat” that he directed. Caitlin’s story is not over but there is no release date

Review by Elise Cooper

Shadow Heart by Meg Gardiner is the fourth in the series.  As with the other books there is an overriding arc about a bomber and the individual case involves a serial killer.

The book starts off with Efrem Judah Goode convicted of killing four people in Tennessee, but he insists that he is innocent. Now he is drawing haunting portraits of his real victims. There appears to be a copycat that is getting clues from his pictures.  To stop the killings, Caitlin needs to find the connection between Goode and this new killer. This copycat killer nicknamed the Broken Heart Killer is killing people in the same locations that Goode left his victims back in 2008.

The heroine is Caitlin Hendrix, a 31-year-old FBI professional in the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Her job is to offer investigative support for violent crimes. She is trying to balance her life and not become too obsessive with solving the crimes.

This is a faced paced, action-packed page turner. People should read the other three books in the series first or they will miss a lot. Gardiner writes her twists and play on words perfectly, allowing readers to try to put pieces together that make for a suspenseful plot.

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