The Heart of Good Suspense Thrillers From The Perspective of a Reader and a WriterI will always consider myself a reader before I call myself a writer, and my love for reading has been such a driving force behind every story or book I’ve ever written. With that in mind, I’ve always become very attached to the characters in my favorite books as I do with the characters that I write. Good, Bad or Otherwise.
If they are well written and well developed, they can even begin to feel like someone that I might know. That is the beauty of losing yourself in a work of fiction.
In a Suspense Novel, I find that is even more true as we begin to root for these characters and take every hit with them along the way. So much so, that when a writer harms a core character for the sake of advancing the story, it is not always the most popular decision.
What is often times overlooked is the importance of a well developed villain. The key to that is a sort of Hansel and Gretel scenario. As a reader, I want enough breadcrumbs to grab onto throughout the story without being handed the whole loaf of bread too early, and as a writer I find myself constantly wondering if I’ve found the right balance. To me that is the most difficult part.
Some books offer a subtle route where the breadcrumbs become scattered across many chapters, while others may choose to hide the villain in plain sight. In any thriller that I read, I love to see the villain develop a clear and consistent motive that progresses as he or she becomes more evolved and/or desperate.
While it is completely plausible that a villain is simply a villain because they’ve stepped off the sanity bridge, it is so much more compelling when you are allowed to delve into the psychology and back story. This is often times the key to bringing your villain to life even if you never here a single word from their perspective.
As a reader, I want to know how this killer evolved and I suspect that I am not alone in that.
What circumstances led to him or her finally snapping? Why did they choose their signature? How are the victims tied to the killer? And, if they aren’t directly tied to the killer what commonalities do we see from one victim to the next, and why?
I am not one to jump on board the crazy train, I believe that the best suspense is found when you learn just how this villian evolved and how their circumstances have played a role in that evolution.
When I began writing The Rose Red Reaper, it all started with a very simple image. A white rose floating in a pool of blood. Hence, The Rose Red Reaper. In fact, those roses were the one part of his signature that remained the same throughout the story. The Reaper’s style evolved, but the white rose was always there. For The Reaper, the roses have a particular significance both in his past and present and in many ways become the key to finding him and discovering what set him on the course he’s taken.
At the end of the book, whether as a reader or a writer the why’s are what give you the sense of closure at the end of a case and give you a glimpse into the disturbing evolution of a killer that took you on the ride to begin with.
Title: The Rose Red Reaper
Author: Kristi Loucks
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Lt. Commander Mason Cole never intended to follow his brother into law enforcement, but the murder of a loved one gave him the motivation needed to take a position as the head of Chicago’s Serial Crimes Unit. Along with his brother, Detective Devon Cole, former FBI Profiler and Technical Analyst Melinda Kade and Detective Piper Torello, Mason is tasked with finding some of the cities most prolific serial killers.
As a former Navy SEAL, Mason has seen some of the worst the world has to offer, but nothing could have prepared him for his initiation into the world of a serial killer.
Their first case came with a gruesome introduction from a man who has given himself his own press ready moniker. Known for his macabre signature and the white rose he leaves at the scene with a calling card signed in blood,
THE ROSE RED REAPER
Mason and his team will pursue the killer through the vast streets of Chicago, across the affluent suburbs of the North Shore following cryptic clues left at each crime scene and pointing them to a web of violence dating back to The Reaper’s own childhood.
Complications begin to arise when The Reaper makes a connection to the woman that Mason loves. Dakota Rose Shelton. The stunning, raven-haired beauty that has carefully salvaged Mason’s broken heart may also be the key to ending The Reaper’s bloody reign. Left blind by a childhood illness, she must help them to assemble the pieces of the Reaper’s past with no visual memories to aid her.
Can Dakota help the team put the pieces together before The Reaper targets one of there own? And will she be able to fight off a killer that she cannot see?
Kristi Loucks is a Pastry Chef and Cake Designer with a degree from Le Cordon Bleu Chicago. Her writing and storytelling has always been a way to manage the day to day stresses of working in the world of restaurants and food service. Kristi started writing in High School and has continued to share her work with friends over the years.
While she never planned to pursue writing as a profession, but a supportive friend armed with a copy of her debut novel, A Life Interrupted happened to share it with the right person who urged Ms. Loucks to consider publishing her work.
On March 4, 2013, Kristi released the first book in her new Chicago Serial Crimes Series, The Rose Red Reaper. It’s follow up, The Blue Line Bone Collector is expected to arrive this summer. Currently, she is planning for a four book series.
Kristi splits her time between two creative worlds these days. Working at her Suburban Bakery during the day and writing at night, or on her somewhat infrequent days off.
Excerpt #1 The Rose Red Reaper
Mason turned and headed for the stairs, taking them two at a time with Devon right behind him. The hallway was alive with dozens of officers questioning the other residents about what they may have seen or heard. And Mason was almost certain they’d seen and heard nothing. Melinda and Piper had arrived as they made their way down the hallway to the victim’s apartment.
They entered the apartment and instantly smelled the acrid tang of copper. Blood dripped in fat droplets from the ceiling, indicating that his latest victim’s heart had been pumping at the time the wounds were inflicted.
Mason closed his eyes as he prepared himself to enter the room fully. When he opened them, he moved to the left where he saw Dr. Hovey crouched over the body of the young victim. His eyes had been taped open; his hands were extended out to the side and duct taped to the metal slats of his headboard.
The carotid artery was gaping open with a solid stream of dried blood coating his skin and leaving the unmistakable spray pattern on the ceiling and walls. His mouth was duct taped to silence his screams and he had a tourniquet on his left arm that prevented him from bleeding out as the killer warmed up with his brachial and radial arteries. Dried blood had dripped from his nose, covering the tape that kept him silent, and the sheets beneath him were saturated with blood and urine. Undoubtedly, this poor young man had spent the last hours of his life in an unimaginable state of terror.
“Looks like the handiwork of your guy,” Dr. Hovey stated. “No hesitation marks. Each incision is methodical and precise.”
“Yeah. He’s enjoying this, too. He wants them to watch, to see the life drain from their bodies. He wants to be the last thing they see,” Mason said as he glanced around the room.