When a girl is found brutally murdered in DC, Australian FBI profiler Sophie Anderson suspects that the killing spree has just begun. With her fellow agents she delves into the mind of the killer, trying to predict his next move.
Then another victim turns up. Sophie knows that she's 'seen' the girl before, raped and murdered - in her dreams. Struggling to separate fact from fiction, reality from nightmare, Sophie becomes more and more ensnared in the killer's mind as the body count rises.
From the book cover: "When a young woman's mutilated body is found in DC, Australian FBI profiler Sophie Anderson knows she's got real problems. She's 'seen' the victim before, raped and murdered in her dreams - and she knows this is just the beginning. With her fellow agents, Sophie delves into the mind of the killer, trying to predict his next move. Then another victim turns up and Sophie struggles to separate fact from fiction, reality from nightmare as she becomes more and more ensnared in the killer's mind. The body count is rising, the killer is moving closer and Sophie is running out of time..."
There's a lot happening in this book - probably ultimately a bit too much for my liking so that it all started to get a bit frenetic and messy. For some reason we have an FBI Profiler who is actually an Australian, involved in profiling offenders. She starts to "see" visions of victims in another case her best friend is put on when another agent is pulled off half-way through. When Sophie's friend is then snatched by the serial killer she has to rescue her (and then herself). There's a real feeling all the way through the book that Sophie's romantic interest (a fellow FBI officer) is more involved in these serial crimes than he is admitting, but this itself is fairly obviously a setup from the outset.
All in all, a first book, with a good premise that just got a little too crowded but is worth reading.
GRAPHIC - Shane Briant
There are a stack of books lurking in a corner in my lounge room that are from little / basically unknown Australian authors and I've been promising to catch up on my reading of them to myself for ages now. GRAPHIC was my most recent read from that pile and I'm really pleased I finally got around to it. Straight from the back cover of the book:
"A writer of graphic novels, in an attempt to rescue a kidnapped father of two children, is taken over by his own fictional creation, tough guy P.I. "Sainte-Claire", and undergoes a terrifying metamorphosis.
Set in the Sydney underworld, against a backdrop of a crime war between rival mobsters, Kings Cross' hard man Tim Brierley is pitted against Cabramatta's Vietnamese crime identity Mr Chin."
Now I'm not sure that the blurb actually does the book total justice as the "take over" or "metamorphosis" is not unconscious - there's no woo woo element here. Slowly mild-mannered graphic crime book writer (don't call them comics please), finds that adopting the clothing style, the speech patterns and the general demeanour of his main character, helps in gaining respect, in establishing a persona, in giving him the guts to go up against Brierley and Chin to help the very young (but terrifyingly grown up) daughters of the kidnapped man.
At all stages Robert is aware that he's enjoying being Saint-Claire more and more and this worries him, frightens his girlfriend profoundly and changes his life totally.
It's not the world's most complex or intricate plot and it's not one of those novels that you finish and think, wow, that was a life changing experience. Frankly the very precocious young daughters of the kidnapped man nauseated me ever so slightly, but it was a good read. Robert Howard was a great character to spend some time with, and that idea of having to put on a character, change into somebody else to handle a difficult situation, was interesting. The author's also written "Bite of the Lotus" which I'll excavate from the pile one day.
COLD GRANITE - Stuart MacBride
COLD GRANITE is one of those debut books that come along and slowly cause a stir of comment and discussion in crime fiction forums. So much commentary just makes you want to get that book that everyone is talking about, but at the same time you often wonder if there's a chance that it's all noise and not much substance. COLD GRANITE is all substance.
On his first day back from extended medical leave, DS Logan just wants to get through his first day and hand responsibility back to his new DI. Despite needing to ease himself back into the job Logan finds himself investigating who is killing children. Just to add insult to injury the Chief Pathologist is his former girlfriend and her reception is just about as inviting as the Aberdeen weather in the middle of winter.
Getting himself back into the routine and back into the teams proves problematic for Logan. He's got to contend with a new DI who has an addiction to lollies, a problem with fools and a tendency to assume everyone is one. DI Steel is a well known womaniser who ends up with all sorts of political problems when a trial goes pear-shaped. WPC Watson is assigned as Logan's new babysitter, and she doesn't have the reputation of a ball-breaker for nothing. There's a new journalist in town and he's cocky and pushy. Somebody is leaking stories and Miller, the journalist, just can't seem to keep away from Logan. Children keep dying and disappearing and Internal Affairs seem to be very interested in Logan. All in all, things are not what Logan wanted or needed.
COLD GRANITE uses the weather almost as a character in its own right - it's used to enhance mood and atmosphere in a very engaging way. You feel the weather just as you feel the character's reactions and follow their desperate attempts to stop children dying.
Despite a difficult central subject, the murder of children, the author pulls off a light touch and a level of humour which isn't always just black and feels almost expected. This is a police procedural, but a good, varied story that uses the procedural elements as a framework and builds in details of the characters, their lives and their reactions in a manner that makes everyone human and many many of the people extremely likeable. There are sufficient sub-threads to add texture and realism to the environment and all of those sub-threads are finalised or pulled together elegantly at the end and there's no sense of rush to finish off the book. The language is sufficiently fluid and fluent to keep you engaged but the book does not smack of over-writing or the tendency of some first books to include all the ideas an author has ever had.
Add to that some clever twists and this is a pleasingly strong debut novel and one seriously good read.