I guess when you select a book with a cover featuring a dismembered doll, you should be prepared for the worst. I have to admit however, that even I almost gagged in the prologue of Richard Montanari’s latest thriller, The Doll Maker. I won’t share the serial killer’s modus operandi cos well…. once that shit’s in your head you can’t get it out.
Prologue aside, the book then opens like something out of an episode of (TV show) Criminal Minds.
The body of a teenage girl is found propped up on a freshly painted bench at a train station, along with an invitation to a tea party the next week. Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are on the case and depressingly unsurprised when the date of the tea party brings two more bodies. They’re young boys this time and again there’s an invitation. There’s something different though—an antique doll in the image of the first victim was a surprise tea party guest!
The detectives are then in the cliched race against time in an attempt to find something to connect the deaths, before the date of the next tea party comes around.
In the background Byrne is spending his free time on a cold case. Valerie Beckert was found red-handed ten years earlier attempting to hide the body of a young boy. She was imprisoned and has since been waiting on death row… and now, her time is finally up. Byrne however believes Beckert to be responsible for at least another half dozen deaths and wants to see justice served. This is the first of this series I’ve read but gather Byrne has some sort of heightened perceptiveness and he so strongly believes Beckert’s house contains her secrets, he buys the house himself.
I can’t believe I haven’t heard of Montanari before given the calibre of this novel. Perhaps I live under a rock. Who knows?!
It’s well written, features great (and complex) characters and offers a lot of intrigue. Be prepared for a surprise during the prologue though—going back over the notes I made while reading, one of my very few comments arose from something which happened in the first few pages. My
in-depth analysis comment: Huh?!
I’ll most definitely be seeking out more in this series and by Montanari and am interested to see where he takes the two leads and those around them.
The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari was released via Mulholland Books in late April. (And will be published here in Australia via Hachette in August 2014.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.