Love in the Time of Serial killers by Alicia Thompson has the cutest cover and a curious plot! It immediately caught my attention, and I needed to add it to my Libby queue asap. So, I did.
If you know a few things about serial killers and true crime cases, you will probably enjoy this novel. Not just because our protagonist, Phobe, knows a lot about these cases but because she’s writing a dissertation on the True Crime genre. I found that really interesting!
Although this novel has a boy-next-door type of romance and a cute stray black cat, I really loved that it explores sibling relationships, friendships, and grief too!
Phoebe Walsh flies home for the summer to help her younger brother clean out their recently departed father’s home. Armed with her nerves and her thesis on the true crime genre, she arrives in the middle of the night only to have an attractive stranger offer to help her move her very heavy desk indoors.
But as someone who has studied various true crime cases and is currently writing her dissertation on the true crime genre, Phoebe immediately rejects the stranger’s offer and dives into the house unassisted. Later, Phoebe learns that the midnight stranger is her next door neighbor Sam, a shy music teacher who is genuinely kind.
While Phoebe remains wary of Sam, she finds it easier to reconnect with her younger brother Connor who she has never had a strong relationship with since they were kids. But Connor is loveable and soon ropes Phoebe into a plot to help him propose to his girlfriend.
Phoebe cannot rule out that Sam isn’t a serial killer, but the more she observes him and the more time they spend together, Phoebe slowly lets her guard down around him. But as their relationship progresses, Phoebe freaks. She has a separate life in a different state, teaching undergrad and achieving her Ph.D., but where would Sam fit into her life?
Love in the Time of Serial killers was a great weekend read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys true crime, skittish protagonists, and some good old sibling bonding.
Phoebe is paranoid. Naturally, I think if you listen to a lot of true crime, paranoia is simply a synonym for overly cautious. So I cannot fault Phoebe’s skepticism of Sam. However, as the story progresses, Phoebe’s hesitancy becomes a tad annoying. Her actions are a bit rude towards Sam, but for some reason, this doesn’t put him off.
Additionally, Phoebe’s brother mentions multiple times in this story that he’s in therapy to process his father’s death, and he hints to Phoebe that she could benefit from it too. But Phoebe brushes it off, which is interesting because she mentions multiple times how her parent’s divorce affected her and how her father’s brash personality only alienated her from visiting him and Connor. Phoebe’s very much aware that the divorce made her childhood and teenage years miserable. But I dont think Phoebe realized just how much that effected her adulthood.
While I found Phoebe annoying, she did not ruin the entirety of the story for me. I enjoyed that as Phoebe began to trust Sam, a stray cat chose to live with her. Lenor, the black cat, is skittish and independent like Phoebe. And I enjoyed reading as Phoebe began to bond with Lenor. Phoebe resist becoming Lenor’s owner but slowly realizes she can make room in her life for this creature. It’s a bit of foreshadowing for her romance.
The romance in this novel is not a slow burn or electric. It’s a bit sweet and unravels at what I consider a faster pace. Sam is sweet, friendly, and quiet and paired with Phoebe’s talkative, stubborn, and unfriendly personality. They’re an interesting romantic pairing. But Phoebe connects so well with Sam because he balances out that side of her. And in turn, Phoebe accepts Sam as he is a little nerdy and sweet.
Their relationship is sweet! And these two are definitely close to a grumpy/sunshine type of pairing. Additionally, this book does contain a few smut scenes that spice levels can look forward to.
However, my favorite part about this story wasn’t the romance or how the author gave Phoebe a cat’s personality but the sibling dynamic. Phoebe and Connor have a seven-year age gap which Phoebe points to as one of the reasons they’re estranged. But when Connor’s introduced, he is charming and friendly younger brother who listens and supports Phoebe. Connor also worries about his sister and makes plans to move into their father’s house with her fearing that she may be a little lonely. Connor immediately includes Phoebe in his life, roping her into a marriage proposal. While the sibling may have spent more time apart than together as children, it was great to see them become closer throughout this novel.
Sam and Phoebe get happy ever after, and readers get a glimpse of their future together, which I always appreciate in romance novels. However, one thing I felt that would have been a great addition to this novel is if Phoebe had gone to therapy. Based on my interpretation Phoebe actively grieves: the loss of her father, her childhood, and her friendship with Alison. A friendship that was severed when she joked about a suicide attempt as a teen. I would have loved it if Phoebe had sought out a therapist to help her process everything. Honestly, I’ll settle for lying to myself that she sought out therapy after the events of this novel.
Content Warnings: Grief, death of parent, mentions of suicide, sexual content
Have you read Love in the Time of Serial Killers? What did you think? Until next time book lovers I’ll be living in libros,
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