Not wasting any time, he pressed his knee into her scrawny chest and started work with the hacksaw, drawing it back and forwards across her shoulder, and the screaming increased in pitch. H felt the blade bite through flesh, sinew and muscle before gnawing through bone, the reverberations juddering along his arm. Blood sprayed out in great geysers, splashing him, the walls and the floor.
The screaming stopped, but the sawing continued.”
Police procedurals ala Thomas Harris and James Patterson are a dime a dozen and tend to be just as inspired as your average bit of vampire p*rn, er, romance. Ooooh, some new and hideous serial killer is out there playing mind-games with the detectives. Of course, he (almost always a he) is possessed of a devious and unfathomed intelligence to rival Moriarty. And, of course, he was right under the detective’s nose the entire time. We’ve all been through this game before, so you sure as hell better be bringing something worthwhile in the details or I’m gonna take a nap.
Case in point: the Oracle, the latest in the line of shiny, complicated murderers, has been turning very specifically chosen victims into works of art. He surrounds these sculptures of dead flesh with pictures of other serial killers to photograph as a calling card to the police. Detective Prosper Snow and his new partner (how often do Detectives get new partners anyways? These things would have us believe they trade them in every few weeks) are on the case and… yawn… I’m sorry, where was I?
Luckily for us all, there is more going on here than that. Our dear Detective Snow once made a pact with some friends, something that seemed simple enough at the time: to come to each other’s aid whenever one of them needed it. Usually, this involved kicking someone’s ass but now the stakes have risen a bit. Someone had to die and it seemed like a good idea to blame it on the Oracle. Until the Oracle started contacting them, killing them. Now Prosper’s own life is in danger, as well as those of his wife and child.
That part is what interested me here. I could care less about another psycho-killer in what would seem to be a world full of them, but this dilemma has my attention. We all know well enough how a simple, well intentioned idea can spiral out of control and leave us feeling trapped by our own past. The slippery slope of denial and self-preservation can lead to strange and dangerous places. Would you sacrifice your career and life by telling the police the truth or would you leave your family at risk without the proper protection?
Throughout the course of events, these two areas of concern become intertwined, turning it into a tale of guilt and payment owed. A tale of sins that never fade, blood that never washes clean. Okay, Shaun, you’ve got my attention.
Not only is the premise a worthy one, but Mr. Jeffrey is certainly showing himself to be a fine story teller over all. The pace is smooth, the flow of events brisk and it all went down like those mini sausages coated in butter. He’s created a quick, entertaining read that I never felt the urge to put away.
On the negative side, I really didn’t care at all for the “mystery” aspect of the tale. The killer didn’t possess enough personality to be engaging or enough cruelty to earn my ire. The method of murder was somewhat uninspired. Also, the big reveal at the end didn’t wow or surprise me and was a little cheap in a Ten Little Indians sort of way. However, I was glad to see that, unlike may other tales of this ilk, clues were present over the course throughout instead of those obnoxious pulled-from-the-air endings that are used way too often.
All told, I was entertained, though not particularly blown away. Any fan of police procedurals will find everything they usually expect plus a little extra.
Available from Leucrota Press
Available from Amazon