It isn’t because Hunting Mariah reminded me of my own in progress novel that I really loved this book, although that didn’t hurt. There’s a serial killer’s hunger for school girls whom Spina gives reasons for his macabre behavior as she allows us to get inside his insane mind and his intensifying obsessive need to kill. He will stop at nothing until he satisfies his warped hunger to hunt down Mariah.
The novel contains many plot angles that drive it forward. Of course, there’s why Mariah is being hunted by the serial killer in the first place – a mystery which the author is able to maintain throughout the novel. Why is she kept in isolation in a psychiatric ward and what are her memory blanks about? Why can’t Tony, a man who obviously cares deeply for Mariah but for reasons revealed only much later in the novel, return his love for her? Adding more tension are the secondary characters that inhabit this thriller and Spina has the talent to create suspense around each of them.
Although the author makes clear from the beginning who the killer is I kept wondering, as other characters were introduced and more twists were added, if it could be someone else.
Writing under the name Janice Spina the author is known for writing children’s books – at least over a dozen. Hunting Mariah brings J.E. Spina into the respectful world of fast-paced adult thrillers which will keep you turning the pages.
The second time I come across a psychopath or think I do (one cannot know these things for sure on first seeing someone, can one?) I am in New York City’s Central Park. Alone again, naturally. It is dusk and I am roaming around Central Park when the sound of Don McLean’s American Pie lures me into the crowd. There I stand swaying next to a man. Tall. Blonde. Slim. Man I dig those rhythm and blues. He starts in with the usual talk, first about the music, where I am from. Montreal. He’s from Brooklyn. Then the weather and how hot New York gets. It is a warm summer evening, even balmy for New York City. Helter skelter in a summer swelter. It comforts me not to be alone and I welcomed the attention of a man although I am still too frightened of myself to realize that it is my neediness and fear of loneliness that makes me open to this man. It will be years later that I will begin to understand this part of myself but back then, in my mid twenties, that kind of consciousness remains stowed away under rock like unawareness.
“Where you staying?” he asks me.
I don’t know I tell him. I’ll find somewhere to park my car. Without much money but an appetite to be on the road this is how I travel. In the back of my orange Ford Pinto I have built my personal hostel with a sleeping bag over an inflatable mattress and a suitcase filled with change of clothing and a cosmetic bag with toiletries to bring into the public showers of truck stops, gypsy style.
“You can stay at my place,” he says, “if you give me a ride home.”
It is the seventies. I am naïve. Trusting. A generation lost in space. It is love and peace time and more important, I believe in the goodness of mankind like someone who’s never been hurt or thinks bad things happen to other people, not me. Continue reading