Warning Signs, Carol Balawyder’s first psychological crime novel will pull you in from the first page. Nowhere near the typical whodunit, it provides a compelling, complex image of the emotional process behind becoming a serial killer, the struggles tormenting such an individual, and their social and amorous interactions.
Thorough psychological research and her background as a criminologist provide the author with a strong foundation on which to build realistic characters and trace the effects of their damaging history and dysfunctional relationships. Brilliant in their own ways, the killer, the woman who loves him and the detective trying to stop him are inevitably drawn to each other in a fashion dictated by their obsession, trauma, guilt, loneliness, loss and despair.
“I’ve worked on so many cases where there’s a history of a violent parent. There always seems to be. Mothers abandoning them. That alone can stir a lot of anger in a kid. If he’s not allowed to express his anger, it’s going to get directed at someone else. I have yet to work on a case where there isn’t some kind of abuse in the family,”
Far from depicting a restrictive black and white image of a serial killer, Carol Balawyder creates a layered personality, presenting the character both through other people’s eyes, as well as through his own perception of himself and his disease, as he sees his murderous inclination. But can anyone love such a man? Can he, in his turn, experience such feelings Eugene’s/Nishevsky’s relationship with Angie rounds up the character, also providing insight into the darker corners of romance and desperate need for love, both from his and her points of view.
She allowed the name to form in her mouth like a bud no bigger than the size of her small fingernail circling her lips. She took in a deep breath as if she was drinking in the name, letting it sink deep inside her to be nourished and blossom into love. The kind she read about in her romance magazines. A sultry, passionate love she never quite believed she was worthy of possessing or even capable of handling, though all the while wishing she was.
Like Eugene/Niko, Angie and detective Darren Van Ray are well constructed characters, able to draw in not only crime novel lovers, but any reader interested in psychology and the “why?” behind disturbing human behaviour. The romantic triangle is reminiscent of Carol Belawyder’s skills as a romance writer, as this lady is a talented chameleon, perfectly able to gracefully switch genres. Just like in her previous works, Carol’s prose is fluent, eloquent and moving, managing to turn introspection and analysis into captivating, irresistible narration.
If you love psychology, crime stories or thrillers, Warning Signs is a must-read for this summer.