From the outset, Paul Henry Richter announces himself as the killer of all serial killers
“… the inflictor of joy and sorrow, ecstasy and agony, heaven and hell, and everything known, unknown, and in between.”
The story flows along two main plot threads: one from the investigating Task Force team, and the other following the killer.
Paul Richter is searching for The One, the woman who will fulfil his life. Failure to achieve the exalted position has fatal, terrifying and brutal consequences. The bodies of his victims have their eyes sewn shut, their lips stitched together and their ears removed. Their naked bodies are also found with multiple lacerations, apparently, at ad hoc locations all over their bodies, and they are left in a sitting position, with a floppy hat on their heads and held in place by a board.
The narrative behind the serial killer with his motives and weird mission is well told and you can sense the madness and his extreme edgy behaviour. The obsessive and controlling manner, with that explosive response to lack of order or perfection, is discernable and extremely well drawn. The mix of the calm matter-of-fact attitude while performing heinous acts and yet erratic incidents for no apparent reason, were very well accomplished. I did get nervous during his interactions with the next potential partner come victim, wondering when she would do something to fall from grace.
The characters and relationships between the investigative team felt clunky at times and the dialogue didn’t feel natural. There is an attempt to hammer home certain points which when covered in a discussion, don’t need to be additionally described in detail. The Task Force led by Maeve Brennan is joined by an FBI agent, Dave Willinger, and the team are facing the gruesome murders and mutilation of several young women with very little evidence. They pour over the case files, again and again, hoping to connect some dots while at the same time experiencing the overflow of frustration. If only they could get help for elsewhere??
I felt the novel took time to find its rhythm and it is a reasonably lengthy book at 384 pages which could have been shortened to help maintain a stronger pace. The ongoing investigation and the relationship between the killer and potential victim all seemed to take too long to develop, especially considering this is a suspense novel. I liked the novel theme and the main characters in this book, I just wish the delivery and pace was better. I also felt a little confused with the main motivation of the killer, but to discuss this would be a massive spoiler.
I would rate this book 3.5 stars and I’d like to thank Rich Kisielewski for a copy of his book in return for an honest review.