THE 50/50 KILLER - Steve Mosby

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The 50/50 Killer
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The 50/50 killer, so tagged because of the choices he put to his victims, was almost the downfall of police homicide investigator John Mercer. The man still commands and investigates, but to new boy Mark Nelson, Mercer lacks the focus, with some part of the man having been forever broken. Mercer’s team welcome Nelson into their ranks and are candid with him about their boss, showing their loyalty at the same time while showing their concern. It turns out to be a hell of a first day on the job for the new homicide recruit.

A killer presents John Mercer’s team with a new challenge – find him within the next eight hours, or a young woman will die. A young man has been found wandering the roads out of town, injured and confused as to where he has been and who it was that took him and his girlfriend hostage. Nelson isn’t sure whether the torture the man has suffered has unhinged him or whether he genuinely does not know where the killer is hiding out. As the clock ticks, Nelson needs to place a heck of a lot of faith in the damaged John Mercer and even more in himself. They are all being toyed with, but by whom?

Book Review

Opening Sentence: "...BlackWidow has entered the room..."

PD Martin's second novel is simply amazing. It is so chillingly plausible it leaves you feeling very uncomfortable. Most internet users belong to some sort of online discussion group or forum. Many of these forums are for the use of its members only. THE MURDERERS&#

Now about author Steve Mosby (third novel in, more to come). It can be said with certainty, after reading THE 50/50 KILLER, that the man has a nice hand with the British police procedural and isn't too shabby at the finer points of characterization either. There is just enough of the peeking behind the parlour curtains, observing as we do here the private details of a marriage, which satisfies some voyeuristic urge to spy on the ripple effects with what might be imagined happens to the afterhours relationships of homicide detectives. The viewing and investigation of some seriously disturbed crimes - we expect that to have a kick-back into an officer's personal life. It all balances beautifully with the relentless drive forwards of the police investigation, though it can come across unexpectedly as a little prim and restrained in its execution (good and solid British reserve, even as things go to pieces).  This is a finely worked novel, so the attention to order remains in keeping with how the many personal relationships are meticulously examined.

The line between gratuitous descriptions of the horrific acts man commits against fellow man, as opposed to more clinical observation is treaded with caution. Showing restraint here (considering his background in horror) Mosby includes just enough to have his reader  squinting and wincing but reading on regardless. As we near the pointy end, as with all good crime/thriller novels, Mosby delivers his major plot twist beautifully.

Into British police procedurals? Can't stomach a crime novel that's all about the heinous act itself? Scratch your itch for both with THE 50/50 KILLER.  This is smart and absorbing stuff that will have you flicking over to the author's website clickety-click to see what's next on Mosby's plate.

39; CLUB opens in one such forum - only this one consists of four members - and they are all established serial killers.
 

There's a slightly odd feeling about sitting down to read a book that if somebody asked you why you were reading it - the best explanation you could come up with was ... well ... "it sort of sounded slightly mad - and besides the central character wants to become part of a book.... ".  You've got to be intrigued by that premise.

THE END OF MR Y doesn't telegraph what sort of a book it is from the cover blurb - it sounds a bit like a mystery, it could be fantasy, there's even some elements that sound a bit like traditional science fiction.  It's all of those things and a lot more because at the basis of everything else in this book there is the story of somebody's life that is fascinating, there are characters that you can care about.  There's a story of disaffection and alternative ways of living your life that is intriguing.  THE END OF MR Y is unpredictable, brash, exciting, slightly edgy and ever so slightly odd.

At the centre of the book is Ariel.  Ariel's a great character and narrator - she's very much in control (sort of), she's very focused (sometimes) and she's somebody who knows where she's going (okay now I'm stretching...)  Ariel's engaging, she's fascinating, she's also slightly crazy, but what she really has is acute self-awareness.  She's an impoverished PhD student from a decidedly dodgy background, she's got a very active sex life - many might say it's a very dangerous and unorthodox sex life.  Some people might find a building dropping into a hole in the ground a bit unexpected but Ariel can let that roll, just as she can discover a copy of a mythical long lost book and not question where it could have come from.  She can find a way to handle her odd sex life with her married lover becoming increasingly risky.  She can even develop an attraction to Adam, the ex-priest forced to share her University office because of the collapse of the other building.  And finally she can enter the Troposphere and find it threatening and comforting all at the same time.  But Ariel is used to the unexpected.  In fact she really doesn't know what is supposed to be normal - life is just what happens.  There's a great quote on the back of the book which explains her attitude perfectly:

"Real life is regularly running out of money, and then food.  Real life is having no proper heating.  Real life is physical.  Give me books instead, give me the invisibility of the contents of books, the thoughts, the ideas, the images.  Let me become part of a book".

It's impossible to read THE END OF MR Y and not consider the possibility of the Troposphere.  And compare the possible absurdity of the idea of an alternative reality with a current day obsession like Second Life.  Fantasy and science fiction blurring into reality in a very intriguing way?

Along the way Ariel must try to find out about the two strange men and their two childish offsiders pursuing her.  She must find her PhD supervisor - Professor Burlem - because he alone also seems to understand the ramifications of the Troposphere.  She must work out what she wants with the equally troubled Adam.  She must also decide how or where she wants to live her life.

Australian FBI Profiler, Sophie Anderson, is taking a break in Arizona with a colleague and friend, Detective Darren Carter. He knows her secret. That she can mentally connect with the victims through visions and dreams, she actually sees them through the eyes of their murderer.

No sooner has Sophie arrived in Arizona than a body shows up at the University - followed by a second and a third. Darren is assigned the case and Sophie joins him in the investigation . Can her visions of a woman's horrific death help solve the crime and stop any more victims?

The story is propelled through two main points of view. The investigators and the murderers. The reader soon knows what is going on - there is a group of captives that are locked away in an underground bunker. They are being watched by the four members of the murderers' club as they vie for the chance to murder their favourite captive through an auction. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you read the lighthearted discussions between the criminals - the complete lack of compassion and guilt.

Sophie and Darren have to work out the secret behind their latest serial killer and then try and catch them and stop them. There are twists and turns right up to the very end.

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