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THE CIPHER Puts A Modern Twist On The Serial Killer Trope

cover art for the cipher

Following the success of her Veranda Cruz series, author Isabella Maldonado introduces us to her latest heroine, FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera, in her upcoming mystery thriller, The Cipher.

As a teenager, Nina managed to escape from a serial killer who was never captured. Years later, Nina has built a career with the FBI. But when a failed assault involving Nina is caught on video and goes viral on the internet, the serial killer takes notice and decides its time to finish what he started.

The killer, known as the Cipher for his coded taunting messages left at crime scenes along with the bodies of young women, suddenly discovers that social media is a great way to fulfill his pathological need for attention. Each gruesome murder, every social media post goes viral, leaving the Nina and her FBI team not only racing against time to stop the killer, but also against amateur sleuth-wannabes who want to be the first to solve the crimes and win a prize.

I generally don’t read a lot of serial killer books because the trope has been so done to death and the stories too often devolve into “torture porn.” But I am a big fan of Maldonado’s Veranda Cruz series and knew she had the chops to create a story that is as fresh as it is exciting.

Photo of Isabella Maldonado

That said, what really sets Maldonado’s The Cipher apart from so many other serial killer novels is how she explores our pathological craving for information and interaction, the way social media has changed the way we as people interact with the world, and the ways influential people can put their thumbs on the scales in ways most people cannot.

And with Maldonado’s personal experience in law enforcement, you get a story that accurately reflects the reality of the culture behind the badge.

If you’re looking for an exciting, edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller, you won’t want to miss The Cipher published by Thomas & Mercer. The book comes out on November 1, 2020.

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.