November 19th, 2014


Book 200: The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

Book 200: The Doll Maker (Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne #8) .
Author: Richard Montanari, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Police Procedural. Serial Murders.
Other Details: Hardback. 464 pages.

Mr Marseille is polite, elegant, and erudite. He would do anything for his genteel true love Anabelle. And he is a psychopath.

A quiet Philadelphia suburb. A woman cycles past a train depot with her young daughter. And there she finds a murdered girl posed on a newly painted bench. Strangled. Beside her is a formal invite to a tea dance in a week's time. Seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in a disused house, posed on painted swings. At the scene is an identical invite. 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 Marseille and Anabelle stalking the city, Detectives Byrne and Balzano have just seven days to find the link between the murders before another innocent child is snatched from its streets.
- synopsis from UK publisher;s website.

This series has distinguished itself not only as well- crafted police procedurals with an appealing partnership at its heart but also by featuring a succession of very creepy murderers. The latest nightmare duo of Mr, Marseille and Anabelle continued to impress in that respect. Dolls when featured in crime fiction seems to slip easily into horror territory.

In addition to the above case, Kevin Byrne finds himself haunted by the memory of an old case that also involves murdered and missing children. The plot is quite complex, very dark and the reveal ingenious.

Certainly this proved a page-turner and I hope there will be further books in the series in the future.

Books 51 and 52

51. Ghosts of Savannah, by Terrence Zepke. This was OK. It's a nice, short and fast book to read for those looking for a quick reference to Savannah and its ghostly denizens. It has some nice pictures as well. The strongest point is the website information and traveling information provided. Wasn't crazy about the almost fictionalized and dramatized tones, especially in the beginning of several chapters. Still, it's a nice, light book to keep handy since it includes the pertinent information on the locations mentioned, such as addresses, whether the place is open to the public (most listed here are) and if there's a cost.

52. Vampire Forensics, by Mark Collins Jenkins. This is a fascinating look at the origins of vampire lore from all around the world (or a similar manifestation). I've always considered myself tolerably well-read on vampires, but I was surprised how widespread belief in vampires - or an equivalent - was, and how long such legends have been around. This book goes into the various legends, especially the most famous Slavic-based vampires, the stories behind them and explanations as to why the seemly terrifying phenomenon occurred. Fair warning- this is not a book for the weak of stomach. It's not gratuitous by any means, but Jenkins goes into some detail about funerary practices, embalming rituals, cremation, and the ways people would prevent the dead from rising again. There were many diseases - most notably rabies and tuberculosis - that often were mistaken as vampirism. This book also goes into related undead legends. For example, one possible origin for the word "zombi" is the Angolan word for the name of a deity. No book on vampires would be complete without the nods to the Hollywood contributions to the legend, nor a mention of Vlad Tepes, as well as Bram Stoker's famous novel. A lot of information is packed in less than 300 pages.

Currently reading: Inside Syria, by Reese Erlich, and Ohio Train Disasters, by Jane Anne Turzillo