Minnesota native Tami Hoag returns to Minneapolis in “The 9th Girl,” her 17th thriller and the fourth featuring city homicide detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska. Hoag taps into our pop culture obsession with serial killers (think “The Following” and “Hannibal”) and zombies (“The Walking Dead” and “World War Z”) and conjures up Doc Holiday, a killer who preys on young women — but only around national holidays. When “The 9th Girl” begins, it’s New Year’s Eve. A car trunk pops open during a minor car accident and out bounces a horribly disfigured body. A witness thinks it’s a zombie, and the media quickly dub the victim “Zombie Doe.” Could she be Holiday’s ninth victim?
Hoag mixes the detectives’ determined hunt for the killer with Liska’s struggles as a single mom raising two boys. The growing problem of bullying linked to social media sites, as well as America’s tattoo culture, play key roles in this character-driven novel. Fans will experience an uncontrollable urge to seek out Hoag’s other Kovac/Liska novels, “Ashes to Ashes,” “Dust to Dust,” “Prior Bad Acts” and the new e-book short, “The 1st Victim.”