The Sketcher's Mark possesses the pace of a thriller with the psychology and gore of an extremely creepy horror novel. At times there were familiar themes like in the movie Taken. But the psychology aspect of the antagonist, Guillotine, wraps you in the mind of an incredibly talented, intelligent, and disturbed serial killer. At times it was very difficult reading - especially when I knew the worst was yet to come.
Like many unknown artists in Paris, Guillotine sketches the images of visiting tourists and signs them with his mark of HH. Unlike most other unknown artists in Paris, Guillotine doesn't do it for the money. He's searching for perfection - angels to add to his collection as he prepares for his debut showing in a Parisian art gallery.
And to use to complete his masterpiece in time for the debut.
But his deceased aunts follow him at every turn, demanding blood as retribution for what he did years before. It takes pain to purify - something Guillotine knows only too well.
Lara McBride, one of LA's finest criminal profilers, waits impatiently on the other side of the pond for her sister, Janelle, to return from a French backpacking expedition. When Janelle doesn't show and Lara cannot reach her via phone, she fears the worst.
After all, she's seen the most twisted criminal minds.
With little assistance from Parisian authorities, Lara searches the local haunts and pieces the puzzle together as she searches to locate her sister before it's too late. All the while, Guillotine watches Lara in fascination until it's obvious she's getting too close and could ruin everything. Lara then becomes his mark.
Like I said, pacing was good for the most part and kept me reading - at times even when I didn't want to. The disturbing trips into Guillotine's world reflected well the trauma of abuse he suffered at the hands of his two aunts who raised him, along with the willing assistance of the local parish priest in their attempts to purify him as a child. It is no wonder he is now capable of the horrible ways in which he sees and treats others and the methodology he utilizes to kill. For a bad guy, Guillotine is the worst - and yet even among daily life he's still rather invisible among the masses, which is the way he likes it.
I understood certain aspects of Lara McBride, the drive to do whatever she had to do in order to try and save her sister. However, this character was rather inconsistent as the novel progressed. There were choices she made that were simply unbelievable for one as well-trained as she. Then the multiple ways in which Lara cheats death got to be a little too much for this reader. But I still needed to see how the story would play out into the finale.
In addition to good pacing, the showing over telling was nice. I got to follow along and experience the story in real time, as it was happening, which helped move the plot forward and kept me reading. Even though point-of-view sneaked in between characters, it was accomplished in such a way that it avoided being overly jarring. A scene break in most instances would solve this problem.
Another round of editing would be good for The Sketcher's Mark. Pronoun usage was over-the-top excessive with almost every sentence in each paragraph for page after page beginning with 'He' or 'She' but could easily be reworded to remove many. Several times a correctly spelled but incorrect word would be used, such as cat instead of car, taught instead of taut, and peak instead of peek. There was also a continual refrain of phrases like 'her watched her' and 'her was intrigued by her' when it should've been 'he watched her' and the like. I could forgive it a few times, but this occurred over and over again.
Even with the aforementioned issues, the story kept me engaged. The pacing and showing forced me forward, not to mention the eery mind of Guillotine. However, be warned that the story is gruesome and terrifying at times in the manner he kills, so tread lightly if gore is a problem for you. Story always trumps structure for me - and for that I'll give The Sketcher's Mark four stars.
I was provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a review and was not financially compensated for my opinion.