Short Take: “The Copycat Murders,” William Meikle

Pros: Taut and intriguing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

William Meikle’s work always seems to migrate to the top of my TBR pile. His novella The Copycat Murders is no exception! It starts several steps into the story, after a handful of women have met mysterious and bloody deaths. They were all knifed to death inside of locked rooms. Lt. Jim Ryan is absolutely certain it has to be the ladies’ smug colleague, Derek Murray, but Murray has an iron-clad alibi. In one case he was on air at the time of the murder, and in another case he was being observed by Ryan himself! But in each case, he seemed to be dazed and looking into the distance while the murder happened. Ryan isn’t willing to believe in the strange yet, even though he’s started seeing a hooded figure in mirrors, but he just knows Murray’s in it somehow. When Liz comes to him claiming that Murray can project himself through mirrors, Ryan starts down a path that will toss him head-first into the most frightening moments of his life.

There are some moments that could seem a bit stereotypical (like the male lead and female lead getting involved), but they make sense, and there are plenty of unexpected bits to offset them. The way in which Murray has laid out his house is really clever and fun. The nature of the world behind the mirrors is fascinating, although I’d like to know more about it.

The characters have a bit of depth despite the story’s brevity, and without giving away any details, I loved the ending. We’re never really in question of whether Murray’s the bad guy–mostly we’re here to find out the how, why, and what happens next. This is a taut, bare-bones thriller that delivers on its bloody promise.

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