“Garage Sale Stalker,” by Suzi Weinert. Barringer Publishing. 352 pages. $15.95.
Jennifer Shannon is an inveterate garage sale junkie. She loves to discover a hidden treasure, either for herself or as a gift. An organized bargain-hunter with a detailed calendar outlining her efficient shopping schedule, Jennifer brings along batteries, light bulbs, and whatever else might be needed to test a possible purchase before making a deal. Her white Cadillac crossover SUV is well-traveled throughout McLean, Virginia, an affluent suburb of Washington, D. C. She works her territory like a pro.
Jennifer is by nature a people-watcher. She gives her fellow shoppers nicknames that label their behavior in the rough-and-tumble world of garage or yard or estate sales. Shrewd and energetic, mostly she is observant. She doesn’t miss much. And that is how she happens to discover that recent newspaper notices of property thefts at certain addresses match up with dates of garage sales she has attended at those same homes. Someone is going to garage sales in order to “case the joint” and return soon after to make off with treasures that were not for sale. She convinces a police officer that there is something here to investigate.
Before long, Jennifer and detective Adam Iverson are almost partners in an investigation that leads in unexpected directions. The suspect is not just a thief, but a man who was an abused child and has become an abuser in turn; indeed, he is a programmatic and audacious serial killer. Once he learns that Jennifer is interfering with his schemes and twisted desires, he is driven to punish her, to put an end to her meddling – and perhaps put an end to her. Ruger Yates is a truly monstrous villain, and Ms. Weinert’s ability to enter his mind provides one of the book’s great strengths.
Suzi Weinert carefully builds suspense and understanding of her characters in this well-turned first novel that teaches while it entertains. The author addresses the classic nature-nurture dichotomy as she, through her protagonist, explores the wellsprings of personality and behavior. Readers receive a course in the garage sale as a revealing slice of American culture and ritual. The author handles police procedures and medical matters with believable authority.
Romance? Well, there’s that too as one of Jennifer’s daughters becomes enamored with Detective Iverson, who is mightily smitten himself.
How did the publication of this chilling thriller come about? Three talented people who reside in Naples meet a forum that puts authors, publishers, and agents together.
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the March 16, 2011 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the March 17 issue of Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Suzi Weinert