Mulholland Books (April 28 2015)
Richard Montanari is a discovery for me, although it's not his first novel (far from it, as this is the eighth book in the series!)
I admit I loved the book cover, intriguing and disturbing at will and the story really attracted me. The good news is, although I never read the first books in the series, it never felt like I missed an episode. This makes it easy to discover this fine team with this book (and then read the others). Byrne and Balzano are two different and yet very similar character, one Irish and one Italian, they are nonetheless as stubborn as a mule and very close to their family. I don't know if it's because the characters are already anchored in the series, but it brings out an air of familiarity with Byrne and Balzano, even if I just discovered them. These are two very nice people and I was going to say "normal" to the point that one soon feels as if they're family.
Initially - and especially because of the cover (don't juge a book by its cover...) - I was afraid that the children are turned into dolls, but fortunately it's not the case. There is a certain tension in the narrative, an insidious side to the murders that mixes the horrible (killing is bad) to the very sophisticated, a very disturbing part due to a certain delicacy in the murders. It's a bit like eating with Hannibal Lecter (in the series of the same name), where you eat very elaborate things, very classy, but frankly disturbing (I am eating veal or the pig from upstairs?) Montanari managed the same atmosphere, with a mixture of French elegance and quite disturbing suspects. The suspects (with an s so as not to tell if it's a or some people, mwahaha)(talk about taking great lenght not to spoil the story!) are very different from what I used to read! I can't say anything so as not to spoil the surprise (horror?) of the discovery, but it is very troubling.
What's the story?
Detectives Byrne and Balzano return to the streets of Philadelphia to put an end to a macabre succession of murdered children.
A quiet Philadelphia suburb. A woman cycles past a train depot with her young daughter. There she finds a murdered girl posed on a newly painted bench. Beside her is a formal invitation to a tea dance in a week's time.
Seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in an abandoned house, posed on painted swings. At the scene is an identical invitation. This time, though, there is something extra waiting for Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano: a delicate porcelain doll.
It's a message. And a threat. With the killers at large, Detectives Byrne and Balzano have just seven more days to find the link between the murders before another innocent child is snatched from the streets.
In a nutshell
An excellent novel, a disturbing, sophisticated atmosphere, engaging characters and very troubling suspects. It is a 4.5 / 5 for me