By William Malmborg
It's obviously a case of mistaken identity, but that doesn't mean Kimberly is in any less danger. Who is stalking her, and who is Nikki? And why does it seem that Bill, the horror author that lives upstairs, knows a little more than he's letting on?
With the police force ineffective in stopping her harassment, Kimberly has to rely on two unlikely allies to put a stop to it: Her occasionally-creepy upstairs neighbor, and Mark, who originally came calling for Nikki.
Kimberly is obviously a troubled young woman. Her past experiences with men alone point toward some deeper trauma than even the ones we're privy to. She's strong, but she's far too insecure to know it. She's the modern day equivalent of a damsel in distress.
Mark is the virginal galoot whose eagerness to get any attractive female into bed draws him into Kimberly's investigation, hoping that she will be so grateful for his assistance that she throws him a pity bone. In general he's a good guy, but also a bit pathetic.
Bill is...an interesting character. It's not just his name and occupation that alert us to the fact that he's based (at least in part) on William Malmborg. As a reader of his blog, I picked up on several cues from his past posts that made it into the novel, such as having a second computer used solely for pornography and visits to the "shadier" side of the Internet. One could spend a lot of time speculating where William ends and where Bill begins, but frankly, I don't think I have the stomach for it.
Nikki's Secret offered more mystery elements than I was used to in Malmborg's writing, which was refreshing. The whodunit angle and the stream of clues leave you guessing to the end, and you're genuinely not sure who is going to make it out alive.
This is the third novel by Malmborg that I have reviewed, and although I enjoyed it, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Text Message or nearly as much as Jimmy. All three have had a touch of 'local flavor', as they take place in or around Dekalb, IL where the author resides, but they have become increasingly concerned with regional details, which may be thrilling for readers familiar with the area, but that's a small percentage of people. For me, reading accurate directions to get from one place to another became a bit tedious.
This also was the longest of Malmborg's novels, and it occasionally seemed overwritten with trivialities, taking a paragraph to say what could have been summed up in a sentence. Although the page count wasn't significantly higher than Text Message, Nikki's Secret wasn't as quick of a read. It took me longer to get through this one, as the extreme action simply wasn't there to keep me flipping through the digital pages.
Overall, not a bad read at all, but Malmborg hasn't yet recaptured the lightning in a bottle that he managed the first time around with Jimmy.
Special thanks to William Malmborg for supplying the digital review copy. Visit his blog and support indie authors by purchasing his works.