Sketched – E.M. Townsend

I loved the concept of Sketched. You’ve got a police sketch artist who has an ooky spooky second sight connection that allows her to go into trancelike states where she’s able to draw photograph quality portraits of people who (with the exception of her mother) she’s never seen before – while she’s blacked out.

After a face and location are revealed to her via her supernatural connection, Piper winds up face to face with Dixon’s very own serial killer, the Dixon Demon, and survives (barely). She then goes into hiding eight hours away from her hometown.

Fast forward five years and Piper’s ability is stronger than ever. The Dixon Demon is back in the business of making townsfolk disappear and Piper is drawn back to her hometown to face her own demons as well as the elusive Demon.

I found the story intriguing and entertaining. I really enjoyed the atmosphere the author created. There’s a dark, creepy foreboding that follows you through the book. I wanted to continue reading to learn more about the killer’s motivation and how the various threads were going to be tied together. However, I had some problems with the characters in this book, mostly due to my lack of connection to any of them.

When someone dies during the book, my response was, ‘oh, okay’ and that wasn’t okay with me. Usually I’d be outraged or ecstatic or would at least have some sort of feeling about it, especially when they were an important person in another character’s life, but I didn’t.

The serial killer was unusual in that their victimology changed during the course of the book. While their motivation remains fairly consistent their crime scenes reflected a mix of organised and disorganised elements. I enjoyed learning their backstory and connecting the dots to discover how this person became so freaking messed up.

They are a huge fan of the baddie monologue and take mother issues to a whole new level. Take my word for it: this mother could probably teach Norma Bates a thing or two. I really liked that there were three characters with various mother issues in this book, all responding with their own versions of lashing out and engaging in self-destructive behaviour.

I never really understood the role of Piper’s psychiatrist. While he’s still advising Piper (mostly to actually eat a meal and not drown herself), his role appears to be more Boy Friday than anything else. He’s the chef, the executive assistant, the friend, the babysitter.

I wondered why one alcoholic got the DT’s at a certain point when the alcoholic that was with them at the time didn’t. It’s also noted that a body is too decomposed to be identified using dental records. My forensic knowledge is amateur at best but I thought teeth were one of the best identifiers when a body is decomposed.

I found some of the sentence structure awkward. One portion of a sentence, as an example, read, “their flashlights the only light source of light.” (76%) Although to be fair I read an advanced copy so it’s likely that sentences like this were remedied prior to the book’s release.

Favourite sentence:

“What if she finally surfaced only to find herself still submerged?”

Had I connected to the characters this book would have been a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. I’m interested in reading more books by this author.

Content warnings: Several eating disorder varieties and alcoholism are integral to the storyline and if you’re squeamish, beware, there will be vomit. I found the eating disorder origin story of one character in particular very interesting and enjoyed seeing it weave its way throughout the story.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, S. Prescott Thrillers and for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Fledgling police sketch artist Piper Cooke has always been different. 

Gifted with second sight, but cursed with a life of tragedy, she has survived the feral streets of Dixon and has triumphed over her troubled upbringing. Piper faces her biggest challenge yet, however, when her visions compel her to disobey police orders and send her right into the wicked grasp of a madman. 

Her life should’ve ended back in the blood soaked suburban basement, but it didn’t. Instead, the brutal trauma that should’ve been the end of her only makes her unique abilities stronger. 

Years after her escape, a series of hideous visions force Piper out of hiding and back into the city that almost destroyed her years ago. Plagued by premonitions of doom, she finds herself compelled to track down Dixon’s most twisted serial killer yet. 

Follow Piper through a horrifically unsettling labyrinth of family secrets, corruption and the sickening workings of humanity’s darkest minds. 

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