The victims. For a lot of murder mystery novels, they serve as window dressing, empty composite sketches devoid of depth or personality. It's like staring at someone's driver's license and asking the reader to care about them. Name. Age. Hair color. Eye color. Height. That's about it. But not for Michael J. McCann. He invests the time in humanizing these poor souls that meet such a torturous end. He creates a poignant sense of empathy by having the reader walk around in their shoes for a while. These women are not nameless, faceless corpses to him. He brings them out of the shadows of anonymity and into the spotlight where they're meant to be. They're not props. They're the characters the narrative pivots around. Kudos to an author who recognizes that fact and gives them the respect and dignity that they deserve.
The first is Theresa Olsen. She's a rookie second grade teacher. For the past couple of years, she's lived with her parents, attending college close to home. Moving into her first apartment, she's quiet and keeps to herself. She doesn't have many friends and isn't seriously dating anyone. She doesn't drink, smoke or take drugs. She's the typical all-around good girl. So when The Rainy Day Killer rings her doorbell and tells her that her parents have been in a car accident and that he's there to escort her to the scene - she believes him.
The second is Liz Baskett. She's a starving artist living alone in a tiny apartment, barely making rent. She's a talented musician with no connections, so she sings at the local mall praying that shoppers will drop some spare change into her guitar case. She invests all of her money in instruments and recording equipment, hoping to record a demo and hit it big. Hundreds of miles away from her nearest family member, she doesn't get too close to the fellow musicians she comes in contact with, even though they describe her as gentle and sweet, making it almost too easy for The Rainy Day Killer to wipe her off the face of the earth.
These two, lonely girls aren't just headlines to McCann, they're people. They stand out because of their vulnerability. They're individuals no one bothers to miss until it's too late. By shutting themselves off from the world and relying mainly on themselves to get by, they inadvertently place themselves in jeopardy. Their attempt to be self-sufficient and lead independent lives, unknowingly puts a target on their backs. Mentally deranged stalkers like The Rainy Day Killer prey on women like Theresa and Liz, who are considered the weakest members of society, inflicting their rage on the most defenseless among us.
McCann provides a clear warning to women who live alone or lead isolated lives. Don't be too trusting of strangers, regardless of their appearance or tone of voice. Not everyone is who they seem to be, and it's always better to use an extra dose of caution than end up dead.