Miriam’s life is turning around. She has a home, after a fashion, a job and a long term relationship with Louis.
And she hates it. She hates her job, she hates her boss, she hates being trapped in the trailer, she hates not moving around and, as much as she hates to say it, she hates not seeing people’s death any more – she needs to see those images.
Unable to live in this little box she hits the road again, only to be derailed by the seemingly infinitely patient Louis who has a job for her – a friend who thinks she’s dying and needs it confirming. Seems simple enough for Miriam, albeit odd, but when visiting a reform school for troubled teenaged girls to see this woman she touches one of the students – and sees her horrific death at the hands of a serial killer.
This is a death that Miriam has to stop – and there’s only one way to cheat death; to balance the scales with another death.
The answer is, of course, that you do sound repetitive – but if it’s repeating the same comments that still apply, then is that a bad thing? This book continues the darkness that the first book established. Miriam lives in a very dark, gritty, unpleasant world only exacerbated by her own self-destructive impulses. Her outlook is bleak, she has no time or patience for sugar coating everything – she knows she’s odd, she knows everything around her is pretty awful and she won’t pretend it is otherwise. She has little time for hope and largely dismisses it – things are bleak, when she has a good thing she screws it up and, due to her extremely broken self-esteem, if things were good then she wouldn’t deserve them. And probably drive them off.
But, despite those same opinions being prevalent, we still see a glimmer of Miriam’s hope. The fatalism that so characterised Blackbirds isn’t gone – but it’s reduced because she does have a way to change things – fate isn’t written. But that method of change involves killing people which means it’s not something she can use casually – but also flows into her own self-loathing and moral crisis. Her spending most of the book trying to save the victims of a serial killer means she has embraced the power of change – she doesn’t accept the inevitable fatalism of the deaths she sees – but she has to balance the cost of stopping those deaths. But this, in turn, leads to her moral crisis and further self-loathing: she is a killer. She may be a killer with the purest possible motives, but she remains a killer which is something else to beat herself up over. Especially when she realises that the killer themselves are actually approaching their kills from exactly the same viewpoint – they’re killing for what is, in their eyes, a pure motive. We’re left with the very difficult question of what separates Miriam from the killer? Where is Miriam’s moral high ground – and does she actually have any at all?