Ciao, amici! Today’s book review is of Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar. And before I start, I need to give a quick thanks to Mae Clair for recommending it. She told me I’d love it before she even published her review, and after reading her thoughts, I agreed. NetGalley approved my request the day after her review went live, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. (I took a day off work and read the book in one sitting.) If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, here are my thoughts.
A Masterfully Written “True” Crime Book
I love a well-documented true crime tale, particularly if it involves a serial killer. It has all the fascinating elements of a whodunit, but (hopefully) the mystery is solved at the end, and I have the satisfaction of knowing justice has been served and a monster is off the streets. Bonus if I solve the crime before the detectives.
Chasing the Boogeyman promises three things that always suck me into a story: a small-town, a serial killer, and a true-crime vehicle through which the tale unfolds. And Chizmar delivers those three things flawlessly.
I found the setting to be a character unto itself, maybe because it’s a real place the author knows intimately. Regardless of why, Chizmar breathed life into Edgewood, Maryland, and I felt as though I was walking the streets with him.
He was equally gifted at bringing the characters to life for me, particularly Carly, Detective Harper, and his parents. It wasn’t a matter of quantity of page time so much as it was the quality of it. Their interactions with him and his feelings about them really made them shine. Secondary characters like his childhood friends also added necessary levity and broke up passages of suspense and anxiety.
There were no descriptions of excessive gore, yet there was always an undertone of tension and dread. Setting such an atmosphere and maintaining it throughout the work takes a lot of skill, and I appreciated the effort. Particularly because he made it look effortless.
I began this review by telling you that I love true crime stories and why. That’s why I chose to read this book. But it’s not actually a true crime book at all. Chizmar was inspired by a real-life crime story, but it wasn’t of a serial killer. It did, however, motivate him to write a fictional serial killer novel using the true crime platform as his vehicle. This amalgam of truth and fiction manifested in a blur of genre lines he describes as meta. I simply describe it as brilliant.
I read this book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. And it’s without hesitation that I give it five well-deserved stars.
I received a gratis copy of this work from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
If you’d like to share any thoughts about this book or this review, I’d love to chat with you. Leave a comment below.