Fourteen-year-old Ella Carmichael's corpse has been discovered buried in the woods. The suspect is a cyber stalker who found and kidnapped Ella as a result of her constant status updates on GrapeVyne, a social networking sight. Upon her sister's death, Krista Carmichael becomes obsessed with stopping the stalker before he kills more girls by becoming another person through GrapeVyne. Unfortunately, the stalker captures two more girls and kills one of them. The one who escaped thinks she can give the police an accurate description of the killer. David Carmichael, the girls' father becomes obsessed with finding the killer's face in public when he hears this. Ryan Adkins, founder and president of GrapeVyne is going crazy over his company's bad publicity and begins doing all he can to stop the stalker from striking again. Soon his path crosses with Krista's and the two of them join forces to stop the killer, but first they must discover his fake identity on GrapeVyne, which is not a simple task. While all this is transpiring, the killer is still on the loose...
Terri Blackstock crafts a realistic case addressing the dangers of Internet social networking, an interesting issue to me, because I know people like some of the characters in this book who constantly tell their friends what they're doing and where they are on such social networking sites. This begs the question: whose fault is it if you are kidnapped by a cyber stalker-yours or the website's? Terri explores this issue from different sides throughout the plot all while crafting an interesting case. Unfortunately, despite the good foundational idea, this book misses the Elite List because of borderline characters and typical suspense elements.
Krista, Ryan, David, and the others are all imperfect characters, yet without personalities. Not a single character in this book is perfect or is better than the next, yet Terri failed to take her characters to the next level by giving them personalities. Krista is the closest character to having a personality, but it is not finished. David is also an interesting character mostly because of the original role he plays in the plot. He is not an elderly grandfather character who spouts wisdom throughout the entire plot, thank God. His role is interesting and underused. The villain is probably the worst character because of his sheer normalcy. Most authors are not creative with their villains, allowing them to be monsters rather than people. Besides under-developed characters, the villain is Terri's biggest character problem.
There is a very low-key romantic subplot, one of the more background ones I have ever read. However, it is so insignificant to the plot as a whole, its very existence is unnecessary. But there are worse problems that this. The unfolding of the case is realistic, filled with dead ends and mistakes. This book could have been Elite minus full characters had Terri eliminated the showdown scene cliche or at least had a key character die as a result. Since she did neither of these things, the plot's rating suffered along with the character development's rating.
All in all, Predator is not a cheap suspense plot because it departs from some cliches. But the cliches it does not depart from end up to be its downfall. Terri Blackstock has potential as an author; she just needs to work out the kinks.