After I finished GARDEN OF BEASTS, I read two more books, and I wanted to make a few comments on each. I sort of read them simultaneously, so I’ll start with the one I just finished and move on to the other after that.
The first was THE BRIDE COLLECTOR by Ted Dekker. We’ve all read this book before, in some form. It was a serial killer thriller featuring an FBI team hunting a killer who is kidnapping beautiful women and killing them by draining their blood through their heels, then posing them by hanging them off of dowel pegs placed in the wall and gluing their shoulders to said wall. As usual, there is a bit of discussion of forensic evidence and a lot of talk where the investigators discuss the killings and try to come up with a profile of the killer.
It wasn’t great, but it was good, and kept me reading. Actually, toward the end, I really wanted to know what was going to happen, not so much because I was into the solution to the crime but because of the characters. They were the most interesting thing about the book. Dekker’s FBI guy, Brad Raines, is a troubled man who is, apparently from the reaction of all the women he encounters, really really really good looking. (Yeah, I used three “really’s” there to emphasize the point because Dekker really emphasizes it.) His psychologist/teammate Nikki Holder is also really really really beautiful, and they have a connection, and maybe even some sparks are going to fly between them. But they never get started too much, because the evidence points to a private mental health facility called CWI (Center for Wellness and Intelligence), where high-IQ mental health patients live and receive treatment. There they meet Paradise Founder, a young woman who has some issues, and her little clique of savants.
Those characters are the most interesting in the whole book, in my opinion. They’re quirky and original, and I liked reading about them. In fact, I’d love a whole book about them. Brad Raines, who is sometimes referred to as “Rain Man”, finds that he has some things in common with the individuals housed in CWI, in that he’s a bit of a mental case himself with plenty of issues, and he’s quite obsessive/compulsive when it comes to his investigations.
Dekker took a few risks with the way the story played out, and I have to admit that there was a point where I was almost sort of put off by what happened. But overall, it was a fairly typical serial-killer thriller novel, with the plus that it had some non-stock characters who added a lot to the narrative, in my humble opinion.
The second book I want to write a little bit about is one called NIGHTMARE CHILD, by Ed Gorman writing as Daniel Ransom. This one was a fairly stock horror novel as well. In it, a young 9-year-old girl is murdered by her sister and her sister’s husband (for her inheritance), and they get away with it. That sounds like a typical thriller, right? But then little Jenny, the dead 9-year-old, comes back. She first encounters her neighbor, who she always called “Aunt Diane” and who lost her husband and is childless, though not because she doesn’t want or can’t have children. Then Jenny returns to her sister’s house, where things begin to get strange. (As if having a girl return from the dead isn’t strange enough.) Diane is inclined to believe that the sister and brother-in-law are abusing the little girl, but is that the case?
This one is a well-written and well-constructed horror novel, and I wouldn’t expect less from Ed Gorman. Everything I’ve read by him in the past has always been really engrossing. This one is good, but I dont know…maybe I expected more when I saw that Ed Gorman wrote it. One problem is with the ebook formatting. There are chapter breaks, but within chapters the sections where point of view shifts and they aren’t separated in any way; they just run into each other. After I got used to it, I was able to immediately figure out that there should have been a break in a specific place, but at first it threw me and pulled me out of the story as I struggled to figure out who was where and who they were interacting with.
All in all, it was a good read, worth the $2.99 I spent on it in the Kindle store, but not up there with the best of the genre, or even with the best of Ed Gorman.
My four cents (two for each book)…