In Short List, author L.R. MacAllister takes us into the twisted mind of a serial killer. Not your usual ‘abused as a child, mind wired differently’ serial killer, but one with a specific motive, and a specific list of victims.
Richard Calder is a tormented soul who has hit bottom, and who blames others for his downfall. He plots a macabre revenge, and thus begins the saga of the Dart Man.
The story starts at a slow, almost leisurely pace for the first few chapters, and then, like a roller coaster that pauses at the top before plummeting toward the ground, it takes off at a breakneck pace that will leave you breathless.
I received a free copy of Short List for review, and I have to commend MacAllister for his twisted imagination, and his ability to suck me into his convoluted plot, and keep me reading for over 380 pages. I was a bit confused at first by the prologue, but by the end it finally became clear. I usually prefer dialogue earlier than MacAllister introduces it, because it moves the tale along faster, but in this case, the first chapters of a sort of inner monologue and description added to the dark tone of the story. My only real complaint – and this is minor in the greater scheme of things – is the switching back and forth on point of view, especially the insertion in places of a second person point of view. I understand the author’s reason for doing it – and it worked, sort of – but, I still found it a bit disconcerting.
Having said all that, I still thoroughly enjoyed Short List. Four stars to L. R. MacAllister.
When private investigator Jake Abraham gets a phone call from disgraced ex-Chicago cop Gregory Patterson it starts a spiral of events that could prove fatal. Patterson wants Jake to find his missing daughter Susan, who didn’t show up for his birthday party. Jake starts a search for the missing girl, only to have her turn up dead with a ‘Z’ carved into her foot. This leads to a connection with several other similar murders.
The cops are looking for a serial killer, but there’s also a mob connection. Jake has more leads than he knows what to do with, and he keeps crossing the wrong people, which could cause him to be added to the growing list of victims.
The Shoulders of Giants by Jim Cliff is a mystery in the mold of Elmore Leonard and Mickey Spillane; gritty dialogue, realistic settings, and non-stop action that will keep you on the edge of your chair as Jake flits from one hair-raising encounter to another. This is definitely a five-star keeper for mystery fans.
Leine Basso has left her old life as a government assassin behind, and moved from L.A. to Seattle to start anew. When the contestants on the reality TV show “Serial Date” begin to become victims of a cannibalistic serial killer, Leine is hired to provide on-set security. Returning to L.A., she finds herself in the middle of gritty, bloody action, which soars to new heights when her estranged daughter returns and is kidnapped by the killer, who begins making demands on Leine that plunge her right back into the life she’s tried to leave behind.
In Serial Date, author D. V. Berkom exposes the dark underbelly of society, from the unreal make believe world of reality TV to sordid politics, and paints a picture in such vivid colors and bold strokes you feel you’re there. Crisp, crackling dialogue and characters you have no problem believing in, are the hallmarks of Berkom’s story, and the action, which is non-stop from start to finish, will have you on the edge of your chair, panting for more.
This is mystery as mystery should be – intricate, non-linear plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, a lead character you can identify with, warts and all, and a satisfying conclusion that, if you’ve read carefully, will surprise you as you slap your forehead and say, “why didn’t I see that coming?”