Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
on 1 August 2014
Emma Dockery is suspended from her job as an FBI research analyst for refusing the sexual advances of her boss. Her sister, Marta, died alone in a house fire eight months earlier. Emma refuses to believe it was accidental. She becomes obsessed with home fires associated with a single fatality. She establishes and analyses 53 cases. A pattern emerges of a serial killer (unknown subject). The victim is always found at the point of origin of the fire, always a bedroom, where any evidence will be destroyed and deaths appear accidental, hence no autopsy. With the help of her ex-fiancé, Books, himself an ex-FBI agent, they endeavour to provide the FBI with substance to back her theories. Early in the book, 'Graham' begins a series of recordings stating, 'I have killed a lot of people' and announcing his selected victims with prophetic accuracy. A formal investigation begins headed by Books. An ingenious, meticulous, cold-blooded murderer is roaming freely in the states of America. The task is to capture him before the death toll climbs.
The story line is cleverly conceived. Emma's character comes across as tough and determined, rather cold and not particularly likeable, prepared to cross boundaries in her mission, putting others at risk. Books is a thinker, well-organised and tolerant even when pressured by Emma and the frustrations of chasing a killer always one step ahead of his best laid plans. Tension is developed by the killer and the fires with the investigative team gradually gaining more information on patterns of his idiosyncratic behaviour. He has covered all eventualities in the unlikely event the authorities will close on him. He considers himself too clever, invisible, untouchable, a man ahead of the game. His character is well-developed and captivating right to the end as his self-confessed thoughts and personality are revealed in a piece-meal fashion.
The chase is full of suspense and the twists leading up to the ending come with a thump, skilfully executed. The narrative runs fluently with most of the action occurring in the latter stages of the novel. The finale itself comes over as a bit rushed when the excitement and suspense could have been developed given the major surprises it contains. Having said that, it is thrilling with the outcome hanging by a thread.
Patterson and collaborator David Ellis have produced an easy, enjoyable murder thriller. The arguments will no doubt continue as to who wrote what but this stand alone book is, in my opinion, a 'good read'.