3 out of 4 stars
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With such an eye catching title, I was immediately intrigued by Rick Matkin´s new crime novel The Chipmunk Murders.
When detectives, Tina and Ken, are called out to a farm where a dead body was found, they immediately realize that nothing will be easy with this case. Not only does the crime scene encompass three different counties, there´s also a signature mutilation to the body which shocks them all.
With three different police forces involved, the jurisdiction and chain of events is quickly confused. When a second body is found, the police are at their wits end and have no concrete leads to follow. Tina and Ken look to some outside help for inspiration, but will they be able to solve the case before another body turns up?
Written in third person, the story incorporates a lot of different characters. Focusing mainly on Tina and Ken, the reader has an insight into their partnership. Tina is a force to be reckoned with, racing from one place to the next, looking into every possible theory to solve the case. This contrasts nicely with Ken´s more relaxed attitude. Older than Tina, Ken has more experience under his belt and is able to help ground Tina in some of her trains of thought. Mick, Ken´s friend, features quite prominently as well. Involved in the social services system, he is able to provide a different perspective for Ken, utilizing his unique experience and knowledge to assist his friend. The author uses Mick´s character to emphasise how childhood incidents can have severe impacts of an adult´s psychology.
Set in rural America, the chapters are divided up to represent each day, starting at day one with the first murder. This helped to illustrate the frustrations that a police force can encounter, with days passing without a break in the case no matter how much work is done.
This story deals with several serious issues such as sexual abuse, child abuse, suicide and body mutilation. While not unnecessarily graphic, the story does illustrate important loopholes in the social system which the author obviously feels strongly about.
While I enjoyed the idea of the storyline, the writing didn´t flow as well as I would have liked. The sentence structure seemed a bit static, with conversations appearing a little staged rather than flowing naturally. I also found several things repeated unnecessarily which affected the flow, making it drag a little. Unfortunately, as an avid fan of crime fiction, to me the ending was a bit predictable, but this certainly may not be the case for every reader.
Overall this was an enjoyable read and I rate it 3 out of 4 stars, mainly due to the flow of the writing. It’s good to see some of these unpleasant topics brought to light, which this book certainly does. This is a book for readers who enjoy a good crime story and who are able to cope with the serious subject matter.
The Chipmunk Murders
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