2 out of 4 stars
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The Embalmer: A Steve Jobz Thriller is the first book in a two-part private detective series by Vincent Zandri. In this first book of the series, we are introduced to former Albany police officer, Steve Jobz, who is resigned to a boring existence in his current position at the New York State Unemployment Insurance Fraud Investigations Agency. The tedium of his day, spent in his four by four cubicle, is broken up when Albany Police Detective, Nick Miller, requests his assistance on a case he’s currently working. Dubbed the “Mortician Murders,” Miller’s case is on a serial killer who has been embalming his victims while they are still alive. Based on a profile provided by the FBI, the police suspect that the killer may be a disgruntled ex-funeral parlor employee.
Jobz is recruited to assist Detective Miller on the “unemployed” angle – both for his unique perspective and for his help in utilizing the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Investigations Agency database to search for the “needle in the stack of needles,” as explained by Miller. A welcome reprieve from the utter monotony of the hunt for the reprobate unemployment insurance fraud abuser, Jobz is glad to help.
I found this book to be a quick and easy read. The conversation between the characters remained loose and colloquial and I was engaged throughout the book. However, there were many areas where the book missed the mark for me – these areas were plot, character development, and storyline. First, the plot was extremely thin. I was expecting some excitement, some twists and turns, but there were none. I guessed who the killer was at the first introduction and I was really disappointed when my hunch turned out to be correct. About three-quarters of the way through, the killer’s identity was revealed and so I found myself anticipating the big climax surely waiting for me at the end of the book, but it never happened.
The second area where the book fell short was in the character development. All of the characters were pretty one dimensional – even the protagonist. In fairness to the author, we were given some backstory on Jobz, but not enough to connect with him on much of anything besides the challenges he faced with having a famous-sounding name.
The third and last area that I’ll touch upon is the storyline. Talk about a needle in a haystack! The leap from a disgruntled unemployed individual to unemployment insurance fraud is pretty unrealistic. There were other areas that stretched the bounds of reality, however, I felt that those could be attributed to creative liberty.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. As already stated, the book was a quick read and it kept me engaged. Although it did not hold up in the thriller category for me, I believe that it has the elements of a good crime novel. The book does contain violence, gore, sexual content, and adult language so I would recommend it only for adult readers. Readers who enjoy crime and detective fiction may find this book to be right up their alley.
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