Author: Michael Donovan

Publisher: House On The Hill Publishing

ISBN: 9781519275301

Review of Arc Copy

In Michael Donovan's most recent thriller, a serial killer is on the loose in England where women's bodies are turning up badly mutilated. It is widely assumed that the killer must be the “Diceman” - a nickname given to a killer that stalked and viciously murdered six women in Greater London between 2002 and 2004 and left his victims “like diced meat.”

Our story unfolds when Private Investigator Eddie Flynn, who formerly had been a police inspector for the Metropolitan Police until he lost his job after failing to capture the Diceman seven years previously, apparently received a phone call from the presumed Diceman's latest victim, Zoe Wade just before she was butchered.

When questioned by the police, Flynn was baffled and denied any knowledge of the phone call as his phone had been lost the previous night behind a sofa in his home and he did not find it until nine the next morning when its battery was dead.

Tension begins to mount when Detective Inspector (DI) Megan Reece, who was part of the team questioning Flynn, and acting without permission from her superiors, meets privately with him. At their rendezvous Reece divulges to Flynn that the deceased woman was her sister and consequently, due to a conflict of interest, has been removed from the investigation.

Reece tells Flynn that it has come to her understanding that he has more-or-less ruled out that the killing of her sister was the work of the Diceman. Apparently, Flynn theorized that although it appeared as if this vicious killer had struck again, there were some subtle differences in the manner in which the murder of Wade was perpetrated.

On the other hand, Flynn was stupefied how the killer knew one of the Diceman's calling cards, which was unknown to the general public, in that he always left his victims with a penny coin in their fist as was the case with Wade. How did the killer know this? Perhaps, he was tipped off by someone within the police force?

With the thought that her colleagues were possibly looking in the wrong direction, Reece asks Flynn to re-examine the evidence and to accompany her to the scene of the crime as she is not asking for his advice but rather his opinion on the killing.

The story-line is continuously fueled by a series of unanswered questions posed by Flynn who begins by trying to figure out why would Wade call him and did she really want to reach him or was it a wrong number? Who was the Diceman and was he another Jack The Ripper on the loose? On the face of it, there seems to be two sides to his evil character that were leaving their mark: a cool, angry guy enjoying the agony of his victims and a a furious guy with a grudge that seemed to be increasing with his increasing of stabs of his unfortunate souls.

Donovan presents his readers with a cast of well-drawn character/suspects including Wade's superior, Leon Stachewicz who may have been involved in illegal shenanigans-something Wade could have uncovered when she had been co-operating with a reporter investigating her company, Cytex. Did her discovery lead to Stachewicz hiring a killer to get rid of her and using the Diceman's modus operandi to commit the crime? Soon we too are searching for answers as we wonder if Stachewicz was tied in with the Diceman and how does all of this fit into the plot?

And let us not forget about Wade's husband who was involved in an extra-marital affair with one of his wife's co-workers and who had been spending unexplained time in Switzerland. Did he want his wife out of the way? Was he involved with the Diceman?

This is a chilling thriller crafted with a fluid narrative style in which the voices of the characters are always engaging the reader to come along for the ride and figure out the jigsaw puzzle from the tantalizing clues Donovan presents. Although some scenes may be gruesome, Donovan nonetheless knows the value of careful construction, good writing and characterization, and above all, for inducing fear, he does not shy away. Moreover, he repeatedly blindsides his readers with shifts in the plot filling his tale with wild nightmarish scenes.