...gripping ... Author Wendy Heard makes a bold choice in asking readers to identify with Sean, a confessed killer of women who hasn’t quite tamed his violent urges ... Heard excels at setting a tense creepy mood, but as the novel hurtles toward its conclusion, a few too-hard-to-swallow plot twists take things in an implausible direction that doesn’t gibe with what’s come before. But despite a flawed third act, Hunting Annabelle entertains with a story that raises questions about guilt, justice, and if violent, mentally ill criminals can ever be truly cured.
...suspenseful if contrived ... Heard hooks readers with her intriguing premise and complex protagonist, but stumbles during the final third of the book with a dizzying series of unbelievable plot twists. Still, fans of psychological thrillers will be curious to see what she comes up with next.
The crushingly lonely Sean, who narrates, is a most unusual and very conflicted antihero. Heard challenges readers to empathize with him despite his horrific past, and the blazing narrative gleefully subverts a few horror/thriller tropes. The 1986 setting, which places the book's action at the tail end of a prolific stretch of serial killers, lends a grungy feel, and readers might even be forgiven for expecting the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface to appear during a few of the rural Texas sequences. Heard doesn’t rely on a lot of gore, though there's an undercurrent of low menace that builds to a nearly unbearable crescendo in the last act. In less capable hands, the delightfully dark twist and final denouement might not work, but Heard pulls it off. A diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.