Grief, Ghosts, and The Trail of a Killer

Author: Ronald Malfi

Do you ever really know anyone? The question has subsumed Aaron Decker’s life. After his wife’s murder, Aaron begins to uncover a darkness about her, a secretiveness. In Come with Me it starts with a leftover receipt from a motel they never went to and culminates in the hidden files (and the gun) she kept in their closet. Who was Allison, really, and what did she know? What was she ultimately capable of doing?

Beset by a haunting grief and the actual ghost of his wife, Aaron stumbles onto something deeper than an affair and more lasting than an obsession: a series of crimes that his wife was tracking for over a decade. As he puts together the pieces he reveals a gruesome puzzle: young girls, all strangled and drowned, the trail of a serial killer that his wife had somehow found. How did she know this man, and did she ever figure out the final piece of the puzzle? What does this sordid history say about her, and where do the lines between responsibilities and obsessions meet?

As Aaron travels back and forth, Malfi creates a masterpiece of grief, a very real recreation of a man who lost everything only to encounter moments that are still worse. The story starts with flashbacks, ghostly talk from Aaron’s obviously disturbed wife. Is she now leading him from beyond the grave, her project of justice unforgotten? Or is Aaron haunted by something far worse, a living monster? Was Allison right about the killer, and what did she do about it?

Everything is a pallet of grey: mistrust, betrayal, death, longing, a desire for connection obscured by failed justice and the dim mercy of time. Malfi combines the feelings of the character and the depths of love between a couple with an insidious mystery that is just as complex as it is dark. Soon, we trust no one, not even the dearly departed Allison. Aaron’s crusade is half madness, half addiction, and readers cannot help but follow along, pawing through the clues, trying to figure out why the pieces never quite fit and where the supernatural overlaps with a gritty investigation. It’s done just right, equal portions teaser and emotional tear-jerker.

The writing flows, the questions and doubts pile on one another, the imagery becoming darker and more eerily insubstantial as Aaron follows the clues of the dead. The conclusion is unexpected. I was exclaiming aloud with each page, everything finally making a somber kind of sense. The amazing thing is when my Goodreads book club, Horror Aficionados, chose this book I was disappointed. This just proves why book clubs are so important. I can effortlessly say that Come with Me is one of my favorite books, and I will be seeking more of this author’s atmospheric works.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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