A specialist in serial killer tales (Kiss of Evil, etc.) offers the gory first in a projected series. A religious nut is preying on Catholic schoolgirls, picking them off with impunity while Philadelphia detective Kevin Byrne and his new partner, Jessica Balzano, wring their hands and wrack their brains. The victims are found with their necks broken, their hands bolted together in prayer and their vaginas sewn shut. Byrne has a problematic past and a Vicodin habit, and Jessica's daughter, Sophie, is a tempting target for the killer, especially since her dad, undercover cop Vincent Balzano, has been kicked out of the house for cheating on Jessica. Several red herring suspects keep both cops and readers off balance, and there are plenty of subplots-Jessica is a female boxer, Byrne is the divorced father of a deaf daughter, there's a nosy tabloid reporter trying to start trouble. But most of these mini-dramas serve only to provide a breather between sadistic mutilations. Montanari can be a wonderfully evocative writer, but the final unveiling of the madman's identity will draw cries of foul from readers who expect a fighting chance at figuring out who the guilty party is. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Feb.) Forecast: Ballantine is pushing this one as Montanari's breakout book-and it's a featured alternate of the Literary Guild, the Mystery Guild and the Doubleday Book Club-but the dangling subplots and a formulaic ending may hobble it a bit. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Leaving behind Cleveland detective Jack Paris, Montanari (Kiss of Evil) introduces Philadelphia veteran cop Kevin Byrne and his rookie partner Jessica Balzano. What hasn't changed is the twisted serial killer and the gore-drenched violence that are Montanari's trademarks. Here the Philly killer targets teenage girls attending Catholic schools, leaving a rosary with each corpse and a clue to the next murder. This is a no-holds-barred thriller with driving prose that thrusts the reader into the black soul of the killer. The plot is cleverly crafted, the appealing characters are multidimensional, and those with a taste for Thomas Harris will look forward to the sure-to-follow sequel. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/04.]-Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Someone is killing the Catholic schoolgirls of Philly. Detective Jessica Balzano, the newest Gold Badge in the Philadelphia Homicide Unit, has caught the high-profile case of five girls slain in a single week. There's no telling why, no sign of an end to the brutal pattern. Each victim has rosary beads clutched in her hand, each has been mutilated in a grisly way. Jessica, a decorated police officer's daughter, is bright, resourceful, eager to succeed and as nervous as a kitten on her first day. Fortunately, she draws as her partner Kevin Byrne, a man whose 20 years on the force has given him a special insight into the pathology of serial killers and a special hatred of them derived from his conviction that mindless cruelty is an inextricable part of a serial killer's m.o. Byrne likes Jessica. He thinks she's talented and committed. She respects him enormously. Together, they mount an investigation that soon points in an interesting direction-until its subject is transformed from possible mastermind to brutalized victim, leaving Jessica and Byrne suddenly clueless. Frustrated, though not discouraged, they return to the grunt work. It bears fruit, and this time Jessica feels absolutely certain it's the right direction-something that scares the daylights out of her. A long but lively police procedural told with Montanari's (The Violet Hour, 1998, etc.) signature brand of inelegant brio. Agent: Meg Ruley/Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency
Praise for The Rosary Girls
“The Rosary Girls is a well-written, fast-moving thriller with twists and turns galore that will keep you guessing until the end.”
–Phillip Margolin, author of Lost Lake
“Readers of this terrifying page-turner are in the hands of a master storyteller. Be prepared to stay up all night.”
–James Ellroy, author of L.A. Confidential
“A relentlessly suspenseful, soul-chilling thriller that hooks you instantly.”