4 out of 4 stars
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The embalmer is dying to meet you! If you love the thriller genre, how could you refuse to read a book with this tagline? Do you want to choose a novel to read which is full of mystery, suspense, and wonder? Then The Embalmer by Vincent Zandri is the book and is also written by an author who has won several awards.
The main character in this novel is a man by the name of Steve Jobz. Now, while you might be getting excited and thinking that this is a novel about the challenges and successes of Apple, this Steve Jobz is a different person with a similar name. Steve is an employee of the New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Fraud who had also worked as a police officer previously. Steve had to leave the police force when he was involved in a shooting incident where a young colored man was shot during a hold-up. Although Steve is bored by his work, he seems to have resigned himself to the fact that this is his lot. However, his manager agrees to undertake a conjoint job with the Albany Police Department and Steve jumps at the opportunity to have a change of role for a period of time. Unbeknownst to him, he would become involved in the pursuit of a serial killer whose trademark is to embalm his victims alive. But is this killer a stranger, or a person who is close to them? The novel winds its way through twists and turns, using humor to make light of the otherwise very dark subject matter. The plot is fast paced with so many unexpected events and leads the readers to an unforeseen ending.
There are several factors about this novel that I really enjoyed. I like the fact that there is a use of appropriate humor to make light of the subject matter. This novel contains themes of murder and violence, so it would be very heavy night-time reading if the mood was not lightened now and then. I also love the fact that the twists in the novel are so unexpected and really keep the reader guessing until the climax. Even in the completion of the novel, I had not been able to predict the ending. Typically, I read at night, and I found that I lost a lot of sleep as I was not able to put the book down. Every night I found I wanted to read that bit more because the suspense was so strong. The plot moves quickly, and readers are introduced to key characters early on, which really helped me to build a strong rapport with them.
In all, there are only minor factors that I disliked about this novel. The main character is Steve Jobz and there are references to his name, including repeated jokes time and again which irritated me after the first few times. There are some explicit sexual references, which I did not like, and did not feel prepared for. Steve works with a colleague who, in the story, regularly shows him salacious pictures of women on his phone. I did not like this element to the story as it seemed to lower the tone a bit. However, in all, these factors were not significant enough to prevent me wanting to read more.
Overall, I would rate this book as a 4 out of 4 stars and I was not able to stop and put the book down after I started. I love books which keep me guessing to the very end and with the quirks and twists which happen throughout the novel, this kept me thinking. I also really liked the character development and the level of suspense which was created through the writing style. I think that this novel is best suited to readers over 30 years old as the content contains themes of murder, sexual references, and violence. I would not be recommending this book for younger readers due to these themes.
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