Review: LoveMurder by Saul Black

LoveMurder by Saul Black is the second book in the Valerie Hart series, where the San Diego homicide detective must enlist the help of the very serial killer she helped put away (available July 25, 2017). 

Katherine Glass is one of the evilest, most diabolical serial killers that San Diego Homicide Detective Valerie Hart has ever put behind bars—but she didn’t work alone. She had a lover who they called the Man in the Mask (he always wore a mask and never revealed his face). Together with Katherine, the two tortured, raped, and murdered at least six women, maybe more. Although Katherine Glass has been in jail for 6 years, her partner has remained free. And as far as law enforcement knows, he’s been quiet … until now. When the violated body of Elizabeth Lambert is found, a note is found with her, and it’s addressed directly to Valerie:

Dear Valerie,

Katherine Glass stays in prison, more people die. You know who I am, but I’ve left you Danielle’s ring by way of substantiation. They’ll get fair warning, as Elizabeth did. (Look carefully, please.) No videos yet, but there will be. This one is just to open the channel. You’ve been waiting for this. More to follow.

It’s the mention of Danielle’s ring that clinches it for Valerie: Danielle was one of their former victims. And, of course, murder is never convenient. Valerie and her boyfriend Nick, the former homicide cop turned analyst, were just about to go away for the weekend. Nick was planning to pop the question, but that’s going to have to wait.

Valerie was hoping she’d never have to think about Katherine Glass again. When they put Katherine away, Valerie had to do a stint with the department shrink after watching every grueling hour of video they recovered from her adventures in murder. It took Valerie to a horrible place, and it’s taken years to recover in order to get where she is now. She’s happy, secure in Nick’s love, and even considering starting a family.

When Valerie and her team—which includes the FBI—receives a packet including another letter from the killer, it strongly hints that they may want to enlist outside help. Of course, the only person he could be referring to is Katherine Glass. This means that Valerie is going to have to go talk to her in prison, and it’s the last thing Valerie wants to do.

Keep in mind, Katherine is a brilliant, exquisitely beautiful woman, and it colors nearly every interaction, every thought about her. When Valerie and her partner Will visit her at the prison, it goes pretty much like Valerie expects. But seeing Katherine again awakens something dark and coiled inside her.

A guard entered, a stocky, big-breasted woman with maroon hair in a tight bun. “Warden,” she said, by way of acknowledgment. A moment later, Katherine Glass was there.

Prison-issue orange. Hands and legs in mobility cuffs and tether chain. The white heart-shaped face Valerie remembered, those green eyes peppered with black. The smiling look that said she knew your soul’s story, negligibly amusing in comparison to her own. Her mouth, sans lipstick, was the color of raw pork. Regulations had stripped the cosmetics and reduced the long blond hair to a jaw length bob, but it was still pulled back in a short ponytail. There was a very slight fullness to her cheeks, as if a silk-thin layer of fat had been laid beneath her skin. Her whole body had the same simple, dollish quality. Even at thirty-eight the little girl was still there. The clever little girl who kept secrets of which the grown-ups were afraid.

Katherine doesn’t waste any time getting to the cat-and-mouse antics that she’s known for either, and it really starts to get to Will.

Valerie could feel how much this was annoying Will. Not because he thought it was a waste of time, but because like everyone else he couldn’t resist the Katherine fascination. When she talked, when she was in full flight, it was impossible not to listen. Throughout the trial Valeri had watched people’s reaction to the woman on the stand: the incremental mesmerism. It wasn’t what she’d done. It was her articulate serenity in spite of what she’d done. Superficially, people were appalled by her actions. Deep down they were curious about what her actions had given her.


Valerie had been no exception. Even now, she realized, she regarded Katherine as a woman who had been out past the known frontiers. Even now she couldn’t shake the feeling that Katherine knew something that she, Valerie, did not. It had always been part of the inequity between them. It was as if Katherine had gone out beyond the darkness to meet God and had returned carrying his inscrutable imprimatur.

God or the Devil.

Katherine does agree to “help” Valerie, but Valerie knows there will be a cost. She just doesn’t quite know what yet. However, she does know one thing: she won’t let anything destroy the happiness she’s found or bring harm to those she loves.

If you’ve read The Killing Lessons, you already know that Saul Black is a good writer, but LoveMurder is a step up. It’s a tense, terrifying, complex thriller, and it demands your attention. The devil is most certainly in the details. Blink and you’ll miss them.

Black forces his readers to look inside themselves and touches on some very dark places in the human psyche. Is Katherine more horrible because she’s a woman? We’re used to men doing these terrible things. And although you, dear reader, can probably call up a few female names in the serial killer club, women who torture, rape, and kill are either few and far between or verrrry good at not getting caught. Imagine the frenzy a brutally beautiful woman with a genius IQ who sadistically murders women would stir up in the collective public. It’s food for thought.

This thriller is not for the faint of heart, but if you take the plunge, you won’t be able to put it down. Buckle up.

Read the first 9 chapters of LoveMurder!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all posts by Kristin Centorcelli for Criminal Element.


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