The Names of Dead Girls – Eric Rickstad [Review]

The Names of Dead Girls book details


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Eric Rickstad delivers the electrifying sequel to The Silent Girls, and features once again detectives Frank Rath and Sonja Test as they track a depraved killer through rural Vermont.

Every murder tells a story. Some stories never end . . . 

In a remote northern Vermont town, college student Rachel Rath is being watched. She can feel the stranger’s eyes on her, relentless and possessive. And she’s sure the man watching her is the same man who killed her mother and father years ago: Ned Preacher, a serial rapist and murderer who gamed the system to get a light sentence. Now, he’s free.

Detective Frank Rath adopted Rachel, his niece, after the shocking murder of her parents when she was a baby. Ever since, Rath’s tried to protect her from the true story of her parents’ deaths. But now Preacher is calling Rath to torment him. He’s threatening Rachel and plotting cruelties for her, of the flesh and of the mind. When other girls are found brutally murdered, and a woman goes missing, Rath and Detective Sonja Test must untangle the threads that tie these new crimes and some long-ago nightmares together. Soon they will learn that the truth is more perverse than anyone could guess, rife with secrets, cruel desires, and warped, deadly loyalty.

Mesmerizing, startling, and intricately plotted, The Names of Dead Girls builds relentlessly on its spellbinding premise, luring readers into its dark and macabre mystery, right to its shocking end.



I read The Names of Dead Girls because it sounded like something I would like. Although I hadn’t read any of the preceding books in the series, I was able to jump in without any difficulties.

I received an advanced reading copy from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

The Story

Rath fears the man who killed his sister and her husband is back, wanting to harm their surviving daughter Rachel. He raised Rachel and never told her the truth about what happened to her parents.

Rath is brought back on the police force so he can determine if The Preacher is responsible for a new murder, in addition to the disappearance of a woman who survived an attack years earlier. He learns of more murders in Quebec and worries that The Preacher may be responsible for those as well. The story follows Rath and his colleagues as they investigate the murders. It also shows Rachel and Dana have frightening encounters. The identity of the villain is kept mysterious. Rath assumes it is The Preacher. But is it?

I thought The Name of Dead Girls flowed well. The story kept me captivated from the beginning to the end. There weren’t any dull moments.

The Characters

As I said, Rath is the main character. He’s a protective father, competent investigator, and likable guy. Although he seems paranoid and overprotective at times, I gave him some leeway because of the things he had seen in his past.

His daughter, Rachel, is spirited and craves independence. This causes her to have some too-stupid-to-live moments. But I let them slide because she is a college student trying to find herself. I didn’t get her fascination with murder, though. Was the author trying to imply a darker side to Rachel? I would like to learn more in future books.

I don’t remember what the name of the Canadian investigator was, but I made a note about him: his English fluency was inconsistent. Sometimes, he spoke very broken English. Other times, his English was perfect. I think the author could have improved his dialogue.

The Preacher is the main suspect. What he did to Rachel’s parents was truly deplorable. For no other reason, readers can have cause to hate him.

Test, an ambitious female detective, involved in the investigation is tenacious and tough. I liked watching her try to balance family life with her job.

The only problem I encountered (in relation to the characters) was that I didn’t understand the motives behind the crimes. I didn’t like the scenes told from a killer’s point-of-view because you later learn that some of those were not the point-of-view character you thought it was. So, it mixed up in my mind who wanted to do what, and for what reason.

The Writing

At first, I felt like Rickstad tried too hard to prove he could write well. The sentence structures and word choices seemed awkward and unnecessarily complex. As the story moved along, I thought the writing became easier to read.

Rickstad is an excellent writer, particularly when it comes to setting a scene. Every scene contained all the elements I needed to picture it in my head–characterization, atmosphere, and setting details. I appreciated how he created suspense through timing and foreshadowing. Also, I really liked that the short chapters. Somehow that made me keep moving forward in the book, even when I knew the leads they followed at the time would go nowhere.

Do I Recommend?

I have mentioned a few small complaints so far in this review. What really kept me from giving this book five stars is the lack of a big ending. It felt anti-climactic. I appreciated the twists the author added throughout the story, especially at the end, but I wanted Rath to come into some sort of conflict, have some sort of big confrontation. That never happens. Rachel experiences a climax to her terror, but Rath doesn’t. It happens away from him, which seems odd considering he is the main character.

However, the journey to that point is truly captivating and suspenseful. For some people, it would be frightening. I’m not easy to scare, but I did find myself glued to the pages to see what would happen.

Therefore, I do recommend people read The Names of Dead Girls. The characters are fully fleshed out, the plot is intricate and well-executed, and the pace is very quick.

Although I didn’t love it, I did enjoy it a lot. Had the author removed the scenes from the villain’s point-of-views and had Rath experience a confrontation at the end, I would be shouting from the rooftops for people to read this book. It fell a little short of my expectations, but it’s a solid thriller worth the time to read.

I would read future books by Eric Rickstad.

My Rating: 4/5 stars (B)

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About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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