Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.
Because she might be one herself.
Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return… in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…
I study serial killers. They’re loners. Obsessive compulsives. People who lack emotion and fantasize violence. Intelligent people who on the outside seem normal.
Interesting thing is, I am those profiles. I have urges. I plot ways to violently make people pay for what they’ve done to others.
Nature versus nurture. Of course I’ve studied that. I’ve got good parents with decent genetics so for me I’ve always suspected it’s something else. Except . . . I have no clue what.
I don’t know why I am the way I am, why I think the way I think, why I do the things I do. All I know is that I’m different. Always have been. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know something was off in me.
At ten, when other kids were coloring with crayons, I started tracking serial killers and keeping details of their murders in a journal—a journal no one has ever seen but me.
Now, seven years later, most teens hang out with friends. I, however, prefer spending my spare time at the court house—with Judge Penn to be exact. He tries all the hard cases.
His staff expects to see me, believing my lie about wanting to go into law, and so I give my customary nod as I enter the back of Penn’s court and quietly take my usual spot in the left rear corner. I sit down and get out my summer reading just in case today’s log is boring.
A balding, short, pudgy, accountant type man sits beside a slick lawyer he’s obviously spent a lot of money on. The Weasel is what I decide to name him.
In the viewing gallery sit a handful of women, three are crying and two stoically stare straight ahead.
On the stand is another one of the expressionless ones and she’s speaking, “. . . classical music, a candle. He knew his way around, like he’d been in my house before. He handcuffed my ankles and wrists to the bed posts and stuffed gauze in my mouth so my screams couldn’t be heard. He cut my clothes away and left me naked. He wore a condom and was clean shaven, everywhere. He had a full face mask on.”
“He raped me,” she matter-of-factly reports and then describes in detail all the vicious ways he violated her.
“I’m going to be sick,” the woman in front of me whispers before getting up and leaving the room.
I continue listening to the details, mentally cataloging them. Details don’t bother me. They don’t make me sick. They don’t make me want to leave a room. If anything they draw me in because they are just that—details, facts.
A few of the women in the room sniffle and I glance to The Weasel. Although he’s doing a good job of keeping his emotions blank, I catch a slight smirk on his lips that kicks my pulse.
This is one of the things I consider a talent of mine. While some people show every emotion, I show none. And I can read others’ body language, others’ faces when they think they’re doing a stellar job of masking. The Weasel obviously thinks he’s getting away with something.
Thirty minutes later The Weasel is found not guilty due to lack of evidence. As he walks from the court room, his slight smirk becomes more visible when he glances at one of the sniffling women.
This is another thing people make the mistake of—confidence, cockiness, ego.
The Weasel will rape again. Of this I’m sure.
If it is my destiny to be a killer, I’m going to need a type. And today decides that my type will be criminals—specifically, those that have managed to avoid punishment.
I turn seventeen next week. The Weasel will be my birthday present to myself. I think I’ve just found my first victim.
S.E. Green Bio:
S.E. Green (aka Shannon Greenland) is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Vanquished is her debut novel for adults.
Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her online everywhere @segreenauthor.
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