Avoiding the sophomore jinx, Amanda Kyle Williams’ Keye Street remains the most interesting, cynically funny and smart series detective today. Keye entered the arena in last year's knockout debut, The Stranger You Seek: A Novel (reviewed here).
Stranger in the Room: A Novel finds her recovered from her, and her lover’s (Atlanta PD Detective Lieutenant Aaron Rauser), near-fatal battle with the serial murderer known as “the Wishbone Killer”. Keye and her employee, the perpetually red-eyed and high computer guru Neil, have settled back into the life and work of a private detective. Serving processes, arresting bail jumpers and keeping the local Krispy Kreme in business.
Life is good and if not quiet, it is at least a time for Keye to spend time navigating the mean streets of a romantic relationship with the obsessive and always on the job Rauser. They seem to pass in the night, him coming in at 3 a.m. fresh from a murder scene or a stake out, her wishing for more face time not to mention sack time, but as an ex-FBI psychological profiler understanding the pull of the job, she is content for now. Besides, Rauser has just come from the scene of a senseless murder of a young, gifted teenage athlete. Strangled and staged just steps from his home.
Then Keye’s cousin, the sometimes suicidal, ever-brilliant and sought-after celebrity photographer, Miki Ashton intrudes into Keye’s life, bringing baggage that challenges Keye's efforts to remain sober and drives a wedge between her and Rauser. Miki seems the polar opposite of Keye. She is a practicing alcoholic, drug abuser and psychologically dizzy black sheep party gal.
When Miki returns home from a wild drunken night on the town and spots a masked stranger in her living room, she turns to Keye for protection. Keye and Miki have shared many childhood memories and remain as close as sisters, so Keye takes her in. After all, the police don’t take Miki’s report of an intruder serious as Miki has a habit of reporting stalking incidences that have little evidence and the fact that Miki is obviously drunk and or drugged up do not help with her credibility.