4 out of 4 stars
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This story is a murder mystery located in New Zealand. It starts off with the first chapter titled "Before". The segment is told through the killer's eyes, and grabs the reader's attention immediately. The story then continues in first person only now it's narrated by the protagonist Bobby Ress, a 26 year old homicide investigator. His partner is Pollo Latu who's a seasoned veteran detective. They both have strong ties to their immediate families but any resemblance between the two ends there.
The first crime the detectives have to investigate is the murder of a priest which is very grisly, graphic and disturbing in its description. Then two more priests are murdered just as grusomely in the same amount of days. The three murders seem to be connected because all three victims were priests, all three knew each other and the methods of all three killings were reminiscent of different ancient practices by the Catholic Church. Nonetheless Ress and Latu are both baffled by the murders and they have no tangible leads.
Meanwhile, a gang member of one of the worst gangs known to the police escapes custody after being allowed leave from prison to attend his young son's funeral. This fact worries the two detectives because the gang member, Jones, was going to be released in a matter of days. Ress and Lato are assigned to track him down because they were the ones who put Jones in prison in the first place. It soon becomes apparent that the gang Jones belongs to is involved in the murders somehow and Jones seems to be the primary suspect. The detectives' biggest worry now is finding Jones before he murders again.
The writer was proficient at bringing the characters to life with defined personalities. I appreciate that because in my reading experience it's been somewhat difficult to accomplish when writing in the first person. Usually the reader only sees the other characters through the eyes of the narrator. There are also several twists to the story, which creates even more suspense. One of the things I liked best is there is a classroom scene where the discussion that ensues is quite riveting and it gives cause for the reader to use critical thinking skills if he or she so chooses. Another interesting attribute is that the story's broken into segments of chronological times and days, which somehow make the events seem more real than traditional chapters would. Finally, the writing style wasn't too complex and transitions were smooth.
However there were too many paragraphs that were unnecessarily one sentence, and this tended to be distracting. Additionally there were several times quotation marks were used where they shouldn't have been. This made for confusion with the reader not being sure of who's talking. Lastly, and it may just be this reader, but the author uses British English so certain words spelled with z's in the US were spelled with s's and the word "ton" was spelled "tonne". The worst I can say about the English used is it gave rise to secure a double take when noticed.
I highly recommend this book to people who like murder mystery, suspense or thriller genres. Because of the horrific ways the priests were killed and the lurid details of said murders, I would suggest this book for adults only. Even then, it's probably only for those with strong stomachs or vague mental images.
All in all the book was fascinating and I had a difficult time putting it down. The story only spans one week, but it's a thrill ride for the reader. Despite the distractions, I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
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