Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: American Devil by Oliver Stark

Publisher: Headline, 2010

Tom Harper, NYPD's star homicide detective, is on the verge of losing his shield for striking a superior when New York is left reeling by a series of brutal murders.
Two young socialites have been strangled by the 'American Devil', one of the most gruesome murderers the sity has ever seen. The police's only clue is the killer's need to pose the bodies and scatter them with cherry blossom.
Harper's superiors know their suspended officer is the only one who can stop the American Devil before he strikes again. And so they reinstate him on the condition that psychologist Denise Levene is appointed to oversee his return.
Harper swiftly realises that Denise's professional expertise is invaluable to his investigation and their relationship changes as they begin to work together on the case.

The synopsis will sound familiar to all readers who like 'serial killer' books. American Devil is Oliver Stark's debut into this genre and the book follows the format set by many well known authors - an interesting crime fighting partnership, a very nasty killer and , be warned, some explicit descriptions of murdered young women.
Although I would have preferred a few less victims with more detail of their lives so I could feel connected to what happens to them and the horror impact would have been greater.
The author gives a voice to both the hunters and the hunted which I liked. I enjoy the insight into the killer's mind and trying to work out his motivation and with Denise being a psychologist the emphasis is put on the psychological element of the investigation.

Personally, I found it too long through the middle part but I'm glad I stayed with it because the last quarter is fantastic with all the action, twists and surprises, suspense and nail-biting tension you could ask for in a good thriller. It is the first in a series featuring Tom Harper and Denise Levene - the second book, 88 Killer, has also been published . Good reading for lovers of this genre.

What's In A Name Challenge 4 (a book with evil in the title)

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