Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

4.5 stars, actually

It was a little hard to like Phoebe Walsh in the first chapter– not only does she treat her obviously affectionate brother with a slightly chill manner, but she instantly interprets everything, including her sweet, helpful, nerdy ruffled-hair neighbor as the overture of a serial killer.

Of course, she’d been studying true crime for her dissertation for years. And her off handed reference to various famous serial killer habits are fascinating, but doesn’t make for a sympathetic character.

But then, little by little, her brother and neighbor wear her down with their unending obliviousness or forgiveness of her hard edges and cranky says, and suddenly I really liked her. We dig into her backstory, and while there is no major trauma, only an age-old story of divorce and a father who can’t give children the attention they deserve, she is obviously wounded.

And Sam is soooo, soooo sweet. And there’s a stray cat who adopts Phoebe, and a librarian friend who is snarky but also loving, and a flash mob.

This book is so easy to read, Phoebe pulls you in, Sam makes you want to stay, and the various serial killer references have you Googling like crazy. Super sweet, contained story with emotional development.