Play Dead (Kevin Byrne & Jessica Balzano Series #4)

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Overview

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...

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Overview

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 one game they can't afford to lose...

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hands down the best book ever written!

    This book was amazing. I did not want it to end. The characters and originality kept me intrigued throughout the entire book. I loved it so much. I was so sad that it ended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Great crime thriller

    I have read all of Richard Montanari's novels (those published in the U.S.) and they are so good! Really enjoy his characters and the stories are well written. I've never been to Philadelphia but after reading his books, I feel like I have. His decriptions are so colorful. Highly recommend the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2011

    Highly recommend for mystery and police procedural fans

    Richard Montanari has a virtual canon of Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne novels. I have enjoyed them all. Principal values are plotting, suspense, believable and engaging characters. If you are a fan of "this stuff", you will be rewarded by Badlands and other novels in the series. Compelling reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    exceptional author- read all his books

    loved this author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Best work

    The author has an excellent skill for captivating his audience on alternative levels. Each chapter leaves the reader anxious for the next one. Cringe at the killers games while one's heart go out to Kevin and Jessica in their jobs vs. their personal thoughts and lives. Tough to put down, but gave me something to look forward to the next night.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Montanari delivers once again. . .

    I think it is impossible for Richard Montanari to write a bad book. Badlands is another excellent book to add to his resume. It is a fantastic police procedural novel with cliffhanger suspense throughout. I have enjoyed his character development of Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne, they are two fictional cops worth reading about. The psychopath in this book is one of the best you'll ever encounter in fiction. Badlands is a superb read from a superb author. I can't wait for the next installment in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2008

    Magic and puzzles send police racing for solution

    The word that came to my mind after reading this book was ¿WOW!¿ Badlands is located in North Philadelphia in an area that is old, run down, bad, and does not have the nicest living there or hanging out near it. Police detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are switched to the elite Special Investigations Unit of the city police force. Mostly young runaway girls are found brutally killed and every time the police think they have a new clue that will corner and capture this killer, something else is left for them leading them in another direction. These clues are, as they finally find out, clues from puzzles and/or magicians. The killer sends or phones messages but they always lead to another area or house in the Badlands. The police are always one step or more behind this horrific killer. Byrne and Balzano are kept very busy as are the police added to assist in this search. The villain watches young women in various areas of the city, determines which ones would be the easiest for him to gain faith and trust. Eventually, the victims are unknowingly drugged and are taken one at a time to his hidden lair. He alters his appearance so a description was next to impossible for anyone that might have seem anything going on. The killer was smart but the police knew he would make a mistake some time but WHEN? Eve Galvez was a top-notch cop and very good friend of detective Balzano. When Eve disappeared the dragnet increased with more resources immediately thrown into the search. This now missing woman involved one of their own, and that message increases every cop¿s urgency. As days went by, the discovery of another missing girl, or a body, or bodies with clues that the killer left to tell the police where he was and what he planned next, but the clues were deeply rooted in puzzle clues that were almost impossible to solve. Mr. Ludo was a name he left for them. The name he was going by now was Joseph Edmund Swann. Swann, now thirty-eight, had a horrible life from a child growing up through his adult years and even now it was miserable mainly because of his mind being so messed up. His mind worked in strange, mysterious ways with thoughts drifting to all times of his life, his parents, and his task now of finding certain characteristics in a girl that he needed for his final puzzle solution. He would change his appearance almost every time he was in public view, making his true appearance different to anyone. Swann¿s father, Karl Swann, had been a traveling magician, many times using his son, Joseph, in his acts, no matter how dangerous they were. This change in appearance also helped Swann get close to his victims making them think he was helping them. As the police moved on with the case, they contacted some experts in the field of magic and illusions, some active, some that had written books, and some that were expert puzzle solvers. Several more police joined the team as they rushed from place to place trying to solve the clues before this killer had another victim. Richard Montaneri is great at describing people and places in words more descriptive and understandable than many authors. He keeps the reader¿s mind actually in the area with the victims, the police, and Swann himself. I highly recommend this book to any suspense and mystery readers.

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    Posted September 8, 2009

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    Posted March 16, 2010

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    Posted May 6, 2010

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    Posted August 24, 2010

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    Posted January 28, 2012

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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    Posted December 1, 2008

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