Title: The Murderers’ Club
Author: P D Martin
Publisher: Mira Books (2008)
FBI profiler Sophie Anderson is visiting a police officer friend on holidays in Arizona when an unidentified body is discovered. As has happened once before in her career Sophie experiences a psychic vision of the victim before his death when she goes to the crime scene with Detective Darren Carter. At the same time as this case progresses readers are treated to transcripts of the discussions of an online club who talk about victim selection and killing techniques in the same off-hand way that a knitting club might chat about wool selection.
This is brilliantly constructed novel. So good in fact I can think of some authors I’d like to send copies to with a pithy “this is how you build suspense” post-it stuck to the cover for their edification. The premise and characters are established well and the scene setting is followed by a genuinely edge-of-your-seat ride to an unpredictable climax. There are no extraneous scenes and no frustrating loose ends and the fact that readers know things that the police don’t know is handled deftly.
I’m rather surprised that I like Sophie as much as I do because I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to psychic powers but Martin has developed a credible premise and I find myself curious about this element of Sophie’s character. The fact that she struggles to accept and use her ability seems very natural and fits in well with the rest of her personality. Also, as she’s a solidly trained expert who relies on evidence and all the other traditional methods for catching criminals, I find it much easier to accept the psychic element to crime solving than I do in other fictional cases (such as TV’s Medium). The other key characters here are also well developed and have a very natural feel. Darren’s support for Sophie developing her gift is particularly well handled. It’s interesting (and more than a little creepy) to watch the individual characters of the group of villains be seen via their increasingly evil online chats.
Another point worth mentioning about this book is that it explains relevant investigative techniques and police jargon in a useful and somewhat refreshing way. Many books either assume readers know what all the acronyms and other language mean or prattle on endlessly with an unnecessary level of detail but Martin seems to have got the level of explanation just right with this book.
I was a poor New Years’ Eve host last night as I’m sure I gave off ‘please get out of my house’ vibes because I needed to get back to this book and find out what happened next. What a great way to start my new reading year.
My rating 4.5/5
Earlier books in this series
- Body Count
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