The Names Of Dead Girls
by Eric Rickstad is the sequel to the 2015’s e-book
Silent Girls. These are part of the Canaan Crime
series of psychological thrillers set in remote northern Vermont.
Rickstand noted that he became a writer due to, “My
personal experiences that influenced my writings. When I was
fourteen my seventeen year old cousin and I encountered two
older guys with shotguns. They ended up shooting at us with
a shot going off on either side of my head. This affected
me deeply. Another influence was that a friend of mine ended
up being a criminal. In high school he was charming, athletic,
and just a good guy. Yet, when I was watching CNN I saw him
die in a shootout with the police after he ran over a police
officer. I was totally stunned. But I was also spurred to
be a writer from my love for reading. I noticed how a string
of words could elicit a range of emotions from happy to sad
to scared. I wanted to be able to do this, allow readers to
escape into a different world.”
This plot begins with college student Rachel Rath, the adoptive
daughter of former detective Frank Rath. Rachel’s parents
died a horrific death at the hands of murderer and serial
rapist Ned Preacher. Able to work the system he has been released
from prison and has informed Rath he is going after Rachel.
Although he gave up his badge to pursue justice as a private
investigator, Rath has now been reinstated in the police force.
Another sub-plot has Detective Sonja Test investigating the
apparent disappearance of Dana Clark, who has failed to materialize
at her daughter’s house. Rath begins to connect the
dots as he realizes Clark is the last victim of the Preacher
before he went to jail. Their investigation escalates along
with the body count.
The emotional tension ratchets up with each of the character’s
motivations. Frank, desperate to protect his own family while
seeking justice for the “dead girls,” works within
the bounds of his conscience; Rachel, now aware of her identity
and also the brutality her parents’ deaths, seeks revenge;
and Sonja Test, torn between ambition and her home life, makes
decisions that will profoundly impact her personal and professional
The author played off the title regarding the theme of the
book. “I had some detectives try to avoid the mention
of victims’ names when discussing a case, allowing them
to remain objective and emotionally removed. This contrasted
with Sonja Test who wants everyone to know who the girls were
and how they lived their lives. She insists their names are
mentioned because she wants to personalize the victims.”
Rickstad decided to explore the issues of moral versus legal.
“I liked having Frank Roth in the situation where he
has to protect his adopted daughter. He is not sure how to
seek justice and if he is going to go out of the bounds of
the law. I did not want to make him a vigilante, but have
him figure out how to capture this guy and prevent more victims.
He must cope with a killer who is evil, slippery, and cunning.”
He will continue this exploration in his next book, What
Remains Of Her. It is a stand-alone psychological thriller
also set in Vermont with a whole set of new characters. The
plot has a man turned recluse after the disappearance of his
wife and daughter twenty years ago. While living in the mountains
he finds a girl in the woods the same age as his daughter.
He wonders if she is the reincarnation of his daughter.
Rickstad’s writes dark, gritty and disturbing plots
where the setting plays a huge role. Readers get a sense of
evil lurking at every corner and will want to read this with
a light on at all times.