Keye Street, private detective, former FBI forensic analyst, and all-around alcoholic, is called to a rural Georgia town to unmask a killer. Two bodies have been found, both of 13-year-old girls. One of the girls has been missing for 10 years, while the other disappeared recently. Keye must work with a hostile local police department and a population suspicious of the fact that she’s both female and Asian in order to find who is doing this and stop him before it’s too late.
The third installment of a series that just keeps getting better, Don’t Talk to Strangers features a multicultural cast, with a strong female character at its center. Coupled with a vivid setting and intricate plot, this is a novel that crime novelists will enjoy from beginning to end.
When I first heard about Keye Street, the main character in Amanda Kyle Williams’ series, I was intrigued. An ethnically Chinese woman, adopted by a Southern American family, with a gay, black brother (also adopted)? I loved the crazy culture clash that the novel promised. Not to mention Keye seemed like an interesting character: a brilliant woman who was brought down by her addictions and now works as a private detective. I read the first novel in the series, The Stranger You Seek, and thought it was good, but not great. It was the second novel, Stranger in the Room, that impressed me, and the current Don’t Talk to Strangers proves the series is just getting better and better.
Keye has always been a strong character in this series, vulnerable only to her own penchant for self-destruction. She continues to struggle with that in Don’t Talk to Strangers. That’s not to say she’s the exact same character that she was in this novel, though. She’s stronger in some ways, more resistant to her addictions, but she’s also more vulnerable. She’s opened herself up to people around her, and watching them get hurt in previous books has torn her apart on the inside. If you like complex, difficult main characters who still manage to be likeable, then Keye is exactly the character you should be reading about.
The plot of Don’t Talk to Strangers is twisty; I had no idea what to expect and I appreciated that. The end result was surprising in more than one way; I can’t discuss specific without giving away details, but let’s just say that the realism was a welcome change from many other crime novels. This is a novel that’s easy to race through, but it’s worth slowing yourself down and savoring the details. Williams’ descriptions of her settings are vivid; readers will be able to see rural Georgia before them and feel the humidity in the air as they read this book.
It’s always nice when a series gets better with each installment, rather than going downhill; Don’t Talk to Strangers is creative, well-written, and absolutely gripping. Readers looking for a unique main character and impeccable detail in their reads should absolutely seek out this series. Amanda Kyle Williams is certainly a crime novelist to watch; I can’t wait to see where she takes Keye from here.
Other books by Amanda Kyle Williams: