The seventh entry in the Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne crime series has the Philadelphia detectives scrambling to find a connection in a chain of gruesome murders. When the investigation leads the detectives to Cold River, a once thriving hospital for the criminally insane destroyed by a fire years ago and now abandoned, we soon learn that Luther, a former patient, prowls the catacombs beneath the streets of the city. This is where the quintessential estranged serial killer novel culminates; Montanari then introduces an innovative concept to the story line, exploring the origins of mental illness. The story introduces the history of the hospital's Dr. Kirsch, who conducted novel yet dubious experiments on the patients, including the implantation of serial killer Eduard Olev Cross's memories. VERDICT Plot-driven and compelling with hints of horror and parapsychology, this thriller is less of a whodunit and more of an exploration of character and motive. Readers needn't have read the first six novels in the series to appreciate this one; adventurous crime fiction and thriller readers and fans of Keith Ablow, John Katzenbach, and Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter novels should enjoy.—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA
In Montanari’s gripping seventh Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano mystery (after 2012’s The Killing Room), the two Philadelphia detectives investigate the murder of Robert Freitag, whose past links him to the city’s now-closed psychiatric hospital, Cold River, and to the asylum’s most infamous figure, Dr. Godehard Kirsch. In Kirsch’s macabre experiments with dream therapy, patients were implanted with the memories of an Estonian serial killer, Eduard Olev Kross, leading Balzano and Bryne to suspect that one of Kirsch’s patients is now recreating Kross’s murders. Meanwhile, Rachel Anne Gray, an ambitious real-estate agent, searches the catacombs of the city for her younger sister, who she believes was kidnapped by a “raggedy man” dozens of years ago. The atmosphere slides from the thrilling to the gothic in the final chapters, as Cold River offers up the last of its secrets. The abuses of the psychiatric care system that Montanari exposes are as chilling as the novel’s violent crimes. (Feb.)
PRAISE FOR RICHARD MONTANARI:"
Full of surprises and dark shadows" Booklist"
Plot-driven and compelling with hints of horror and parapsychology, this thriller is less of a whodunit and more of an exploration of character and motive. . . . Adventurous crime fiction and thriller readers and fans [of] Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter novels should enjoy." Library Journal"
Richard Montanari's writing is both terrifying and lyrical, a killer combination that makes him a true stand-out in the crowded thriller market. A master storyteller at his very best." Tess Gerritsen"
A master storyteller. Be prepared to stay up all night." James Ellroy"
Montanari weaves a mesmerizing tale." Lisa Gardner
"A master storyteller. Be prepared to stay up all night."
"Richard Montanari's writing is both terrifying and lyrical, a killer combination that makes him a true stand-out in the crowded thriller market. A master storyteller at his very best."
"Psychologically dark, strangely erotic and definitely hard to put down. A winner."
"A writer whose prose can capture quite extraordinary subtleties....one of the best in the business".
"Richard Montanari's vivid portrayal of a serial killing bad-dream team is sick, kinky, realistic, scary as hell and absolutely great."
"Gripping, gothic horror . . . Few contemporary crime writers can deliver psycho thrillers with such power, panache and pitch perfect pacing. . . .If you haven't yet latched on to Richard Montanari¹s fast-paced,atmospheric crime thrillers then get ready to be bowled over . . . and seriously scared."
Montanari's latest thriller (The Echo Man, 2011, etc.) reunites Philadelphia detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne in the hunt for an elusive killer. Prior to his death, Detective John Garcia worked a strange and horrific murder case involving a nondescript businessman found dead in a Philadelphia park with a stake driven into the back of his head. But Garcia, suffering from an undetected brain tumor, did little to solve the case, so it sat dormant until Balzano and Byrne draw it from the cold case files. Soon, there's another murder that's tied into the first one, and it's every bit as terrible and mystifying. The investigating team unearths clues that make no sense: Old photos of elderly people shown nude and performing bizarre sex acts, a box of cash, a raggedy looking man who shows up at odd moments and a very old abduction that has haunted a retired police detective for many years. While Balzano struggles to balance law school with motherhood and her job, her partner, Byrne, deals with his daughter going off to college and becoming an independent young woman, despite her deafness; but the case wreaks havoc with their private lives as it grows more and more complex. And that complexity forms the crux of the problem with this novel. Flashing back and forth between times, places, and points of view and including one massive coincidence, Montanari piles on the details, but many of them are so convoluted that they serve only to confuse readers as they also progress the storyline. In the end, when most readers will expect the case to be wrapped up, almost as many questions as answers remain, leading readers to conclude that the Philadelphia Police Department, though capable of deploying dozens of officers and two supposedly crack detectives to catch the killer, isn't all that good at its job. Overly complicated and confusing in places but with pacing that makes the prose crackle.