T.B. Cooper's Reviews > The Unclaimed Victim

The Unclaimed Victim by D.M. Pulley
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it was amazing

D.M. Pulley’s books are like bags of Cheetos… They’re addicting and I NEED more! Disclaimer: I might just suck at solving mysteries. I think? Real Life problems and scenarios of whodunit- no problem; but written suspense novels, I’m almost always unsure. Well, maybe 80% of the time. Some stories kinda leave enough clues that it’s just obvious I guess… But so far, not D.M. Pulley, she has me guessing 'til the very end and then it’s so beautiful how it all comes together! Anyway, on with the review… sorry!

Plot: If you read her first book, ‘The Dead Key’, I’d say that this book follows the same formula. If you didn’t read her debut novel- you NEED to. The plot of this story follows a fictional theory of what might explain who was behind the (very real) “Torso Killer” killings of Cleveland, in the 1930s and beyond; (it’s) based off of real events, real characters, and real evidence. And, just like with ‘The Dead Key’, I’ll repeat the same sentiment; the plot was well thought out, there were no loose ends left untied. All questions were answered – beautifully – with surprises. The story kept me guessing until the satisfying end.

Characters: The story follows from 3rd person POV, the two main characters, Kris Wiley and Ethel Ann Harding. Kris is our present-day protagonist, who doesn’t believe that her father is really dead (even though pieces of him have been found); so she snoops through all of his belongings for clues and stumbles upon his notes on the Torso Killer. And so begins her journey to find out what he knew, how he was involved in the investigation, and who is behind his tragic death. Ethel is Kris’s 1930s counterpart who is alive and present during the initial period of Torso killings. She is a prostitute, who by a twist of fate ends up being right smack in the middle of the events that have haunted history for decades. She too is trying to find answers and possibly stop the killer, before another friend or even herself ends up hacked to pieces. Both women have a cast of supporting characters that are equally well-developed.

The Writing: I devoured this book in a few hours. Ms. Pulley’s style is so easy to read and flows effortlessly…even with the dual timelines/back-and-forth (Every 3) chapters of Kris and Ethel's individual experiences.

In Case You Wanted to Know: A majority (like half) of this book takes place in the 1930s where wars were done and a new one was on the horizon. Human life wasn’t valued if you were poor and living in the slums. Unfortunately, these souls were seen as expendable/disposable, and White Supremacy was rampant. Do not head into this book expecting to not be exposed to the vileness that is- Men in Power, and some women as well. Trigger warnings for some sexual and abuse situations, and violence, as well. Expect to see life differently. Expect to be bothered and concerned, and possibly offended by the behaviors of some characters. But do take all of this into consideration – the story reads like a real-life/true crime story. This is not a pretty tale. Although I'm sure you will agree it ended well.

Overall: I can’t leave this review without commenting on the very real similarities that this story illustrates to “back then” and “now”. Yes, Ms. Pulley’s take on who might’ve been behind the murders is, in my mind, plausible; but for the sake of contrast, the link between some of the worst people in history, and the idea that these people just went underground until it was time to rise again, is a hard truth in today’s political atmosphere that I can’t ignore. The author used this thread artistically, without pushing an agenda… something I think is brilliant and easily missed by those that choose to believe history cannot/is not repeating itself.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 8, 2019 – Shelved

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