Stalking is Boring

Serenity Stalked by Craig A. Hart is the second novel in the “Shelby Alexander” series. I looked forward to this sequel because I enjoyed the first novel in the series, Serenity, a lot. I reviewed it at https://ron877.com/2018/05/14/a-noisy-serenity/. Serenity had lots of action and several subplots. I gave it four Amazon stars. This second novel didn’t keep up as far as pacing, action, and plot complexity. Although a good story, it does not motivate me to read another novel in the series. Serenity Stalked impressed me as a linear story going from beginning to conclusion without interesting conflicts or subplots. I gave this novel two Amazon stars but will read at least one more to see if the author recovers the quality writing I saw in the first novel.

Smith is a serial killer just for the fun of it; he likes killing for its own sake, not for a sexual urge and not for money although he was not averse to taking money as a distraction so that police would look for a robber. Smith’s killings are taking place over shorter periods of time and he realizes it. After his most recent killing of the Blair family; man, woman, and child, Smith decided to move on. Then he saw his next target. He was fascinated by the fashion sense she displayed as she walked into a bar. He followed her into a bar and discovered Carly worked in the bar. Carly had a boyfriend, the significantly older Shelby Alexander.

Shelby’s home was the town of Serenity. He had run away from home in his youth, lived a full life which included a failed marriage, a grown married and pregnant daughter who was beginning to like Shelby enough to establish a father/daughter relationship and finally, Shelby had returned to Serenity to live a life full of relaxation and alcohol. His life became very exciting in the first novel which ended in a fast-paced shootout. He had managed to irritate the local sheriff, a person Shelby believed to be a political appointee with ties to the local drug trade. Sheriff Wilkes considered it his mission to remove Shelby from the community, possibly by relocating him to a prison after proving Shelby guilty of a crime.

We have a serial killer who has selected a target, Shelby’s girlfriend. We have a sheriff who wants to get rid of Shelby. We have an unsolved crime. Could it be that criminal Smith, who we know to be the killer, might try to frame Shelby for the murder of the Blair family and even better, the planned murder of Carly? With the situation set, the story plays out in an expected manner.

The story is good from a technical point of view. It is the predictability that left me unsatisfied. I look for a plot that challenges me more than the one in this novel. I know the killer from page one. Before the 50% point of the book, I know every character’s plan. It is as if I were putting a puzzle together with each of the pieces numbered so I couldn’t make a mistake when choosing the next piece.

This novel sells for USD 2.99 but is free to read with Kindle Unlimited which is how I read it. If I had paid the full price, I would have tried to return it. I will try one more novel from the series, Serenity Avenged, to see if the writer recovers the style I saw in the first novel. If not, I will abandon the story at the magic 50% point.

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