AMERICAN DEVIL

Written by Oliver Stark

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/


AMERICAN DEVIL
Headline
RRP: £6.99
Released: 2nd September 2010
Pbk

 

Someone is murdering New York City’s rich blonde society girls.  NYPD bring in their best homicide detective, Tom Harper, to solve the case.  Only, Harper is currently on suspension for slugging a colleague, and the condition of his re-employment is to see a therapist to sort out his anger management issues.

Enter Denise Levine, psychiatrist, and the stage is set for a new set of partners in crime in this debut crime thriller by Oliver Stark.  The pairing works well and both characters feel “real”.  A cop with anger management issues is hardly an original idea, but Harper comes across as a likeable character – he’s aware of his character flaws and seems keen to resolve them.  Denise works with Tom to draw a profile of the killer, and the two of them set out to bring him to justice.

Like many crime thrillers this is not so much a “whodunit” as a “howcatchem”.  We are in the killer’s head from the start of the novel, so we are aware of his motivations and his identity is clear fairly early on – but the main crux of the plot is, can the police work it out and catch him before he kills again?

The point of view actually brings me to the main weakness in this novel.  The novel jumps from one POV to another every second paragraph or so, with many chapters having two (or more) POV characters.  I have no issue with multiple third person POV, but each chapter should stick with the same POV, and the blatant “head hopping” is very distracting – not to mention annoying. 

The apparent dimness of the police also gets a bit irritating – they are still chasing red herrings so far after the reader has worked out what’s going on, one ends up screaming at the characters on the page in frustration.  But, to be fair, the reader has more information than the police do most of the time, and of course if the police in a novel were as clever as the killer, it would not make for a very interesting story.

Overall, this is a fast-paced and tightly-plotted novel, and I was eagerly turning the pages to find out what happened next.  Tom Harper and Denise Levine are an engaging new arrival in the Crime-Busting Partnership Hall of Fame, and I look forward to learning what new adventures await them in future novel.  

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