Tag Archives: Richard Montanari

Play Dead by Richard Montanari

Play Dead

From the Dust jacket on the hard cover version:

In each soul, a secret…

Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano’s first assignment from the Cold Case files is the brutal murder of a young runaway. The lifeless body of Caitlin O’Riordan was found carefully posed in a glass display case in the desolate Philadelphia Badlands but, as Byrne and Balzano rapidly discover, she was just the first pawn in the killer’s twisted game…

A mysterious phone call leads them on a scavenger hunt for a second victim. This time a young girl has been dismembered, her body parts left in three boxes in the basement of a deserted house. More clues lead to other victims and, as the body count rises, it becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose, hell-bent on completing the ‘performance’ of a lifetime.

As more runaways vanish, Byrne and Balzano come to realize that the homicidal mastermind plans to complete seven depraved tricks in his dark and dangerous magic act. With Balzano increasingly obsessed by a case that haunts her, and Byrne struggling with a loss of his own, the stakes are mounting. But this is one game they can’t afford to lose…

Play Dead is the latest installment (that I have read, anyway) in the Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne series of books. Again, this one was sent to me by Charm, of the Book Club Forum (one more to go, Charm?), so to her I say “Thank You!”. I like Play Dead better than I did the last one in the series, not that The Skin Gods was bad in any way, mind, I just liked Play Dead better!

There are certain murder/mystery novels that I can sit down to start reading & not get back up again until I have finished – they are rare & only a few authors have had the ability to draw me in like that. Jeffery Deaver is a prime example – I never want to put his books down until they are completely read. Well, this is what Play Dead was like. I sat down to read it one weekend when I was home from work & practically didn’t move; I had to finish reading it before anything else could be done that day. This book had me gripped from start to finish & while I did eventually figure out who done it (managed to not read the ending first with this one), I only figured it out just before the killer was revealed! Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book & would say  that it was the best Monanari I’ve read so far!

So, Charm, when are you sending me the last one in the series? lol!

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Broken Angels ~ by Richard Montanari

Broken AngelsCome and Play……………

When the first body is found, mutilated and strangled on the riverbank, Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano suspect yet another case of random urban violence. Then it happens again. And again.

Carefully dressed and posed, each victim seems to tell a story so gruesome that Byrne and Balzano struggle at first to make sense of the killer’s dark and twisted imagination. But when they stumble upon a collection of old fairy tales. the fragile link between the murders suddenly becomes clear – and with it the terrifying conclusion of the killer’s plan.

Desperately, they try to anticipate the madman’s next move, but as the body count rises, the killing spree spirals out of control…

Broken Angels is the 3rd in the installment of books centering around Detectives Byrne & Balzano & as a series, the books are getting better as they go along. The book begins in the past, in 2001, with Detective Walter Brigham dreaming about the murders of two young girls, dreaming that they are alive, well & happy young ladies. He then wakes up & realizes that this isn’t actually the case, but hopes that one day he will catch their killer.

Flash forward to 2006 & a body is discovered on the banks of the Schuylkill River, behind an abandoned warehouse. Besides the obvious, that there is a murdered body, there is something very wrong with this murder scene, and this is just the beginning!

As mentioned, this is the third book in the series & the third I have read. They get better as the series goes along & I am really looking forward to reading the next book. I have really come to love the characters of  Balzano & Byrne & their developing professional relationship, though I do have to admit that this book doesn’t seem to have much of that – at lease not like the last 2 have had. I sailed through this book, gripped by what was going on (until I got to the end but that was because I was trying to make this book last because I am going to be reading my next book with a group of ladies from the Book Club Forum & not all of them are ready to read that next book).

The last part of this book is most definitely by far the best part of the book. The action reaches a fever pitch & I really can’t say any more than that because that will give it all away!

All I will say is that I thoroughly enjoyed this book & would recommend the series to anyone who enjoys reading murder/mystery thriller type novels. Go and buy the books!

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The Skin Gods ~ by Richard Montanari

the-skin-godsFrom the Back of the book: “Philadelphia is blistering in the summer heat and detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano prowl the streets with growing unease. Suddenly, a series of crimes shatters the restless city. A beautiful secretary is slashed to death in a grimy motel shower; a street hustler brutally murdered with a chainsaw. Piece by piece, a sickening puzzle presents itself: someone is recreating famous Hollywood murder scenes and inserting the clips into videos – for an unsuspecting public to find.

Investigations reveal a violent workd of underground film, pornography and seedy nightclubs, hidden to all but the initiated. None of The Actor’s victims are as innocent as they appear, though, and Kevin and Jessica soon discover they’re not just chasing a homicide suspect. They are stalking evil itself…”

The Skin Gods is the second M0ntanari book I have read & is the second of four books featuring the same lead characters (Kevin Byrne & Jessica Balzano) & of the 2 I would say that this one is better (which I often find to be the case). Perhaps that is because I know the characters & already relate to them, so the story flows better, as I don’t need to concentrate so much on trying to get to know & understand the main characters?

Anyway, I  digress! As mentioned in the blurb, The Skin Gods sees Jessica & Kevin faced with tracking down a killer who is killing his victims in the manner of famous murder scenes from Hollywood movies. Not an easy task as the initial killing shows. The have no leads, no body & no idea if it’s even a real murder!

I found The Skin Gods to be a fast paced, energetic read, which had me bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t read for longer in the evenings. There were several twists & turns, which helped keep the pace flowing in this book & which kept me guessing right up to the very end! I would definitely recommend The Skin Gods to anyone looking for a good mystery/thriller to read. I would suggest you read Rosary Girls first, though. Next on the list is Broken Angels, which I am eagerly looking forward to reading. (After I get through a couple other books which have been waiting for my attention, lol) And a big thank you to Charm for introducing me to this author & for loaning me the books to read!

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The Rosary Girls ~ by Richard Montanari

the-rosary-girlsI finished The Rosary Girls on Tuesday night & while I initially struggled with this book (I really don’t know why, but I struggled with the first couple of chapters) once I got to the part where they introduced the female detective I got hooked & thank god for that because I HAD to like this book, lol 🙂 . I mentioned in an earlier post about the World Book Day book swap that was taking place on the Book Club Forum & this was the book I received, which was from my dear friend, Charm. She loved it & I didn’t want to let her down, so I had to love it!

The Rosary Girls is about a serial killer who is targeting Catholic School girls. Each of the girls he kills is mutilated, posed, their hands bolted together  & has a rosary in her grasp. The story follows Kevin Byrne & his rookie partner Jessica Balzano as they try to track down the depraved man who’s committing these horrible acts of violence. Kevin & Jessica are really well written & compliment each other very well. I have to admit, I expected to hate the character Kevin, but found myself warming to him, then rooting for him to solve the crime!

There are a few surprising twists that shocked the heck out of me!  I was not expecting the ending, for the killer to be who it turned out to be & I certainly never expected the connection the killer had to his last victim (or attempted victim). There was what, to me at least, seemed to be a vein in the book that was leading me to believe that the killer was someone incredibly close to Jessica & while it turned out it wasn’t, it did leave me wondering what had been the point of this particular thought process in the book. (though perhaps I am the only person who thought she saw a killer where it turned out there was none, with regards to this person) Who knows? Must remember to ask Charm if she had ever thought this person was the killer!

ANYWAY!!!! In short, I did love this book – the writing is great & once I got past my initial resistance (still no idea what caused that!), the book flowed & I found myself wishing I had only another hour to keep reading every time I picked up this book! So, to Charm, I thank you for introducing me to  Kevin & Jessica & I shall be buying The Skin Gods very soon! Thanks Charm!

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