Review: The Rose Reaper (Ryan Strickland, #2) by Jennifer Hunter


Print Length: 383 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 5, 2024)

From  A serial killer on the hunt opens the door to a woman's terrifying past in a pulse-pounding thriller by the author of The Lost Victim . 

Three years ago, Kate Doyle escaped a serial killer who died at the hands of her rescuers. FBI consultant and psychologist Ryan Strickland helped Kate rebuild her life, and the case was closed on the Rose Reaper's seven victims--the six who were killed and Kate, the one who got away. 

Today, Kate has a good man in her life, a secure job, and hope. But her dreams for the future become a nightmare when a copycat killer starts hunting. One by one, with each new body, comes a gift for a single red rose. And then the See you soon. If clues to his identity are buried in Kate's memories, Ryan can unearth them. 

As they dig into Kate's traumatic past, they'd better work fast. Because someone is finishing what the Rose Reaper started--and he's hell-bent on making sure that this time, the seventh victim doesn't get away.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Right off the bat some readers may find the first chapter to be triggering as it does talk about the original rose reaper and the things that he did to his victims, more specifically sexual assault as told from the point of view of the killer himself. However, that part is easily skipped, and once you get past that, the focus is then moved onto the new killings which are not described in a such a graphic manner. In fact, the new killings are never told from the perspective of the copy-cat killer. We are simply told that a woman has gone missing, Kate has received another rose outside of her home, and then the woman's body eventually washes up in the river.  

I found that while this story did have some elements that stuck out, for the most part it managed to stick to the typical thriller trope. On one hand we have Ryan working alongside Agent Chapman as one tries to help Kate unlock her memories of that traumatic time while the other works to uncover just who this copy-cat killer is. These two as a dynamic duo were very interesting, Agent Chapman was your typical FBI agent. Determined to get his mind, but sometimes a little too .... focused on things that if he had taken a small step back would have realized were just a little bit too cut and dry. Ryan on the other hand was more interesting to me since I never really got a feel for what he was supposed to be doing. We are told he often consults with the FBI and he is very good and helping victims process their trauma. Which he does. But he also at times seems to be almost profiling the killer even though we are not given any reason to believe he has the sort of background to do so. I also enjoyed the way the killed included Molly as his sort of long-distance girlfriend. It gave him a softer side that I felt made him feel more human. 

On the opposite side of the field we have Kate who thought she was building a new life for herself only to be forced back into the past with all of her trauma resurfacing and having to come to terms with the fact that the man she thought she was building a life with may not be the man she thought he was after all. I loved how this character was presented. She had the moments of weakness that were to be expected. You watched her face her trauma head on, and then you watched as she grew as a character and went from "the one who got away" to the "one who will never live in fear again." It sent a powerful message I think about the ability to reclaim your own life after a traumatic event. 

There were a couple of instances where I thought I knew who the copycat killer was, and then some moments when I thought I was wrong (even if it seemed a little too convenient), but even when my suspicions were proven right I enjoyed the way the characters finally got there. There was a lot of build-up that I thought was executed very well. 

All things considered, I think I am going to go back and give the first novel in this series a read, and if I see anything in the future from this series, if the synopsis appeals to me I'll probably give them a read as well. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this that review are 100% my own.

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