Author: R.J. Ellory, 2009.
Genre: Crime fiction. Police procedural.
Other Details: Paperback. 464 pages.
In the summer of 1984 teenager John Costello and his girlfriend, Nadia, became victims of the deranged 'Hammer of God' serial killer who terrorised New Jersey City. Nadia was killed but John survived, though he was psychologically scarred by the attack in ways no one could really comprehend. As a result he slowly withdrew more and more from society. In modern day New York he now works as a crime researcher for a major newspaper. He may be damaged but there is no one in New York who knows more about serial killers. When a new spate of murders starts - all seemingly random and unrelated - John is the only one who is able to discern the complex pattern that lies behind them. The novel focuses upon the police investigation by dogged New York detective Ray Irving aided by information provided by crime reporter Karen Langley and her reclusive researcher Costello.
Ellory's writing is excellent, and he certainly knows how to generate a sense of nail-biting tension. In the opening chapters there is a section where John Costello recalls the attack upon he and Nadia; which I found it a stunning piece of writing.
This has been described by one critic as 'the serial killer novel to end all serial killer novels' and I'd say that was quite an accurate description.Ellory has obviously done a great deal of research into real life serial killers and has woven this into the story.This was a gripping story with a fresh take on the serial killer genre. I found it almost impossible to put down.