Book Review: The Unknown Man

“Sherlock Holmes used deduction to discover facts about people’s lives. What they ate for breakfast, where they had walked in the city. Zalla did the same thing with emotions. She read their signals to understand motivation, desire and intent.”

“The Unknown Man”, by Natalie Hanson

I’m delighted to join the Blog Tour of “The Unknown Man” by Natalie Hanson. Many thanks to Kelly of Love Books Tours and of course the author for organising the tour and gifting me an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


“The Unknown Man”, by Natalie Hanson follows the work of FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. On the wrong side of her boss, she’s sent to a small town to work with local law enforcement (in reality, just two officers, the chief and the deputy) on the kidnapping of 8-year-old twin girls Megan and Tai Chen. There she is teamed up with Officer Dallan Brown – deputy chief and extremely eager to impress her.

I got real “Mare of Easttown” vibes from this when I started reading – the older, more experienced but damaged female agent, and the younger, eager-to-please male colleague. The two have a really interesting dynamic, clashing with each other, but also finding real similarities in their personalities and the demons that haunt them.

Zalla and Dallan set out to try and find the girls before the worst can happen. To complicate matters, Mr Chen is already known to the FBI for turning informant on a dangerous Seattle-based gang. Have the girls been taken by the gang in revenge? Or is the answer closer to home in the small town of Almeda?

After following the investigation into both the gang and local suspects, things take a major turn about two-thirds of the way through the book, and the remainder is a real psychological battle between Zalla and the kidnapper, and a race against time to try and rescue the stolen children.

Zalla is a very interesting character – suffering from whole body asymmetry, the two sides of Zalla’s body are mismatched and she constantly feels wrong in her own skin. This seems to have pushed her to the outside, and the personal relationships in her life are her lowest priority – she prioritises her work above everything, even her very ill husband who is being treated for cancer.

This book includes some pretty graphic descriptions, including of torture, so might not be for everyone. But if you enjoy an exciting psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns, I would definitely recommend it!

This is the first in a five-book series following Agent Zalla Bennbett, and the end of this instalment leads straight on to the next – I’ll look forward to reading the next one when it comes out!

Pages: 213
Published: 29 May 2021
Rating: 🐈🐈🐈🐈/5

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