Book review: Rattle by Fiona Cummins

Monday, January 30, 2017 Permalink

The quotes about this book on the cover give readers a clue about what to expect. Indeed, even I found it kinda creepy. And I read a lot of books about psychopaths and serial killers. And lawyers. ūüôā

Likening the ‘baddie’ of Rattle to Hannibal Lecter I assumed to be a bit of a marketing ploy, but… there’s a cold¬†clinical psychopathy¬†to the (so called) Bone Collector¬†in Rattle that’s reminiscent to the cunningly smart and seemingly sane consumer of human brains.

Book review: Rattle by Fiona CumminsRattle
by Fiona Cummins
Published by Macmillan
on January 31st 2017
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 1509812296, 9781760551827
Pages: 352

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

We’re introduced to the baddie, aka the Bone Collector¬†at the beginning of the book. So¬†it’s less about us trying to work out whodunnit, rather than the usual race against time to save children caught up in our psychopath’s twisted fascination with bones and bone structures, or as it’s described…

… killing sprees born of a desire to preserve and protect medical rarities. p 166

In some ways this novel is as much about the lives of some of our main characters as it is about the kidnappings and murder/s.

Jakey’s father, Erdman¬†is teetering on the edge when we meet him and before Jakey goes missing. His marriage is a shambles and full of blame and recrimination, and he’s lost his job. It feels as if there’s little point and – other than the love of his son – he sees little meaning in his life. And Etta’s struggling with her own demons. Her marriage is also under some strain and we soon learn that she’s carrying around a bit of¬†baggage – both personal and professional.

We spent a lot of time in the heads of Erdman,¬†Etta and the Bone Collector, as well as Jakey and Clara. It’s hard not to worry about the fate of the children and easy to become engaged in the well-paced¬†plot.

Like another novel I recently read I paused for a moment during this to check it¬†WAS the first in the series as there are a lot of references to Etta’s state of mind and a previous case. The¬†details eventually unfold and I enjoyed this book, but it was a little disjointed in parts, or the editing perhaps a little patchy.

I should flag (again) this book is a little confronting at times as¬†there are some references to the way in which the¬†Bone Collector plans to strip a child’s bones for example; not to mention his almost-clinical lack of empathy.

Cummins provides a lot of scientific and medical detail about the human body, bones and skeletal malformations through the Bone Collector. We’re also however, privy to the challenges his victims and their families face (because of these conditions) which adds texture and complexity to the plot.

Although we expect the usual final confrontation where our protagonists lives are put at risk, this ends a little differently. I can’t say too much but while there’s some closure, readers are left hanging¬†a little. And of course it opens the door for more¬†in the series…

Rattle by Fiona Cummins was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is available from 31 January 2017.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 

I should mention I read an early version of this book (with more pages, or – at least – different pagination) so there may have been some changes before the final publication.


  • Drangonfly
    January 31, 2017

    I think that is probably why this is not my favorite genre. I have run into too many books that have been is as much about the lives of the characters as it is about the crimes! But I keep trying. The cover! I makes me want to hide! Holy hell

    • Debbish
      January 31, 2017

      I actually didn’t mind the backstories in this instance I have to admit cos they offered some of the ‘why’ – if that makes sense and gave us the chance to care about the characters a little more. Usually the backstories / character stuff is included so we get suspicious re whodunnit and I prefer not to know and hopefully be surprised who the homicidal maniac REALLY is!

  • Wendy swensen
    April 9, 2018

    I was very disappointed in the ENDING of “Rattle.” While I found the book interesting and absorbing, I felt many of the characters deserved a fuller explanation, or a better lead up to the ending. I’d give the book 3-1/2 stars out of 5.

    • Debbish
      April 11, 2018

      I’ve got Cummins’ next book to read though haven’t gotten to it yet!

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