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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: The Night Killer by Beverly Connor

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Author: Beverly Connor

Copyright: April 2010 (Obsidian); 359 pgs.
Series: #8 in Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation Mysteries
Sensuality: N/A, but sporadic swear words or rough language and adult themes
Mystery sub-genre: Police Procedural
Main Character: Dr. Diane Fallon, Head of crime lab and Museum Director
Setting: Rosewood, Georgia
Winner of any awards: 2004 Romantic Times Book club Career Achievement Award Recipient for Mystery and Suspense to the author
Obtained book through: ARC from publisher for an honest review

Think of Catherine Willows from CSI meets Kate Becket from Castle and you are in the ballpark of what Dr. Diane Fallon is like. Diane Fallon is not Dr. Temperance Brennan from Kathy Reichs’ books or the television show Bones. Dr. Diane Fallon is original and this series of books is different and deserves kudos on their own merit. If you have tried Kathy Reichs’ books and they were just too graphic for you but you liked the premise – this is probably more your style.

Diane is driving through a downpour on a winding backwoods mountain road in the dark after picking up a set of rare Indian artifacts for the museum when a tree suddenly slams across the hood of her car, revealing a human skeleton in its hollowed out trunk. As she starts to investigate, a man suddenly grabs her and clearly is angered she saw the skeleton. Diane runs into the woods and quickly realizes the angry man has rounded up dogs to track her. As she races through strange woods in the growing dark she plans to reach the couple that she had just gotten the Indian artifacts from. She feels she would be safe if she could just navigate her way back to their cabin.

Stumbling around she comes across a stranger out in the rain and dark who claims he was taking night photos, although Diane doesn’t trust him she accepts his help by taking his rain gear and knife and letting him take her coat to lay a false trail for the dogs chasing her. It all seems to be working and she manages to find her way back to the kind couple who gave the museum the artifacts. It is now late at night and she is shocked to find their cabin door ajar – and then to find them murdered in their dinning room. The backwoods Sheriff has a reputation for being stuck in the pre-technology days and Diane butts heads with him repeatedly after the family asks her to personally investigate.
Diane stopped dead still, not breathing.  Burning acid rose up, stinging her throat.  Her gaze darted around for something to use as a weapon.  A stick, a stone, anything.  She should have picked up something earlier.  Damn it.  Diane squeezed the flashlight in her hand.  It was her only weapon.

The man wore a rain poncho and a hat that hid the upper part of his face.  He held a flashlight in his hand, but it was not turned on.   He said nothing; nor did he move.

"You may be able to overpower me, " Diane said, "but I will hurt you really bad in the process."  Weak threat, but is was all she had.

"I believe you," he said.  "Are you lost? Hurt?"
This is how the book opens and it keeps a steady pace from that point on. There is just enough explanation of the technology and science without droning on about it. The tension is maintained throughout the books as more murders occur, clearly committed by the same person. The characters are well defined each with their own distinctive personalities. I liked all of Dr. Fallon’s co-workers and got just enough of them to want more. Character development was just enough since the pace moved along at a steady clip. This was the first book in the series I have read and I was pleased with the plot and the overall style and development – it stood alone fine. I really liked that it wasn’t a “downer”, if you get what I mean…it wasn’t all darkness and gruesomeness; there were definite moments of light and just a puzzle to figure out.

There are two storylines going in this book. Who was the skeleton in the hollowed out tree when there are no missing persons reports to match the apparent age (elderly) of the skeleton? And the most pressing, who is the serial killer loose in the backwoods? Subplots include the nagging question of who the stranger in the woods was – especially when he shows up later and starts dating Diane’s assistant. Lastly why does the sheriff hate Diane so much he banishes her from his county!

I had suspected who the killer turned out to be, but that was a guess and not based on fitting everything together – and it wasn’t until later in the book. I felt the plot was just complex enough since figuring out the motive and how all the various clues fit together as a complete picture was a good puzzle. Ultimately I felt it was a good entertaining story told well, a “page turner” for me. Description was quite good, you feel Diane in the dark rainy woods etc. I enjoyed some of the repartee dialog as well.

For your convenience you may purchase your copy of the book here.

Be sure to come back next Monday for an author interview and another book giveaway.

And a little something extra.  Are you tired of snow and cold in your area?  Enjoy this little video.

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Heidi V said...

This series sounds interesting I'll have to check it out.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Connor is one of my favorite authors. Can't wait for the book to be released.

They have been releasing 2 Connor books a year which is great.

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