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by Chris Carter
Simon & Schuster, August 2011
454 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0857202952

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In a Los Angeles mortuary, Dr Jonathan Winston performs an autopsy on a murder victim - a woman found with her mouth and genitals sewn shut but with no obvious cause of death. As he pulls a metallic tube from inside her, the unlikely event that follows triggers the hunt for a serial killer.

Detective Robert Hunter, a specialist in solving particularly brutal murders, is pulled off a case to find the person responsible, as more women go missing and more bodies are found. With each victim, the killer's MO forms a macabre pattern - the instruments of their deaths placed inside them for each victim to trigger of their own accord.

Hunter runs into private detective Whitney Myres who has been paid by an increasingly desperate father to find his missing daughter. Together, despite misleading one another at every turn and withholding vital information that could crack the case, they reach a series of chilling conclusions: the killer is targeting female artists, lying in wait and taking them from the very places where they should feel safe.

There is not a single good point in this novel. The gratuity of the violence against every female character is astounding, the brutality of it borne out in the bewildering number of times the author uses the word 'pain'. Each chapter is an average of two pages long and almost all of them end in a mini-cliffhanger or someone's shocking realisation, something which quickly becomes both monotonous and irritating. Reading it is like looking at a badly shot film - frames of a story that don't quite hang together well enough to flow.

And finally, after wading through every gory detail, the motives of the serial killer turn out to be as convoluted as his methods of killing.

I enjoy a good thriller and I love a juicy murder as much as the next crime fan but this is an unrepentant, nasty work that showcases a breathtaking lack of style and substance.

Madeleine Marsh is an aspiring writer who lives in South West England. She helps run sci-fi conventions and loves modern cinema.

Reviewed by Madeleine Marsh, September 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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