4 out of 4 stars
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What do a plastic surgeon, a salesperson, and a nurse have in common? What is the significance of the numbers 60, 67, 10, 4, 47, 17, 43, 20, 10, and 32? Unknown Vengeance by Patrick O’Brien opens up with an ongoing murder, the first of many. The killer is meticulous, diabolical, and extremely intelligent. He first cuts the victim’s face severally and strategically, then slashes the victim’s throat, leading to a slow death. Next, he curves out a number across the chest and finally signs off with a poetic note and name. He then takes his time to carefully clean up and eliminate any DNA traces before casually walking out and blending into the world. Detective Rhody Richardson of the Buffalo Police Department walks into this bizarre and confusing world.
He works alongside his friend and partner, Detective Jon Wayne, and they are immediately racing against time. As they struggle to figure out the cases, motive, and connection between the victims, more bodies drop. The pattern is the same but with different poems, numbers, and names. The victims seem random, and everything quickly turns into a blur for the detectives. They enlist the help of Dr. Kaileen Taylor, a renowned psychologist, to help profile the perpetrator and give more input. As the investigations deepen, more confusion regarding the victims' identities arises, their significance in the killer’s mind, and their relation. The most unusual detail is the probable identity of the suspect. Are Rhody and his team wrong?
The book instantly hooks the reader right from the first line and page. Patrick poetically and intricately describes the unfolding murder scene while maintaining the anonymity of the murderer. The subsequent scenes and settings follow the same exquisite description, allowing one to visualize and experience them, both the good and the bad. For instance, see the flurry of activities and personnel in a crime scene or taste the doughnuts and bitter coffee offered during the team briefings. Despite the numerous characters, each is realistic, relatable, and their roles are easy to perceive. For instance, the detectives have distinctive personalities and physical attributes, yet they complement each other perfectly.
My favorite aspect of the read is the unique and in-depth introduction of victims before their demise. This makes them real, and their death becomes an impactful loss. I also enjoyed the detailed character development. Each character’s professional and social life is clearly highlighted, making them and their interactions authentic. I equally love the overall arrangement and neatness of the book; it is legible and visually appealing. I did not find anything that I did not like about the novel; it has the right amount of build-up to generate suspense and completely immerse the reader into the investigations and the killer’s mindset and activities.
The lack of grammar or spelling errors is proof of the book’s professional editing. The language employed is intelligible with a few cases of profane words. However, as a warning, the brutal scenes and description of the victim’s emotional state, as they slowly fade away, may affect sensitive readers. Unknown Vengeance is an emotive and immensely entertaining crime novel. It is a perfect mix of gruesome yet intriguing crime scenes, riddles, grueling investigations, and light and humorous social moments. It deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to crime novel fans looking for a thrilling and engaging story that will take you through the fields of medicine and anatomy, criminal investigations, and mind-bending psychology.
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