Book review: The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

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Bone-chilling killers… Richard Montanari has them bang to rights.

If you haven’t yet met his dynamic detective duo Byrne and Balzano, then joining them on the streets of Philadelphia as they track down the disturbing ‘doll maker’ assassins could be the start of a new reading experience.

Montanari is fast becoming the master of murder macabre; no phantoms, no vampires, no supernatural forces at work in these thrilling crime novels, just terrifying, complex, compelling psychopaths who knock other fictional killers into a hangman’s hat.

Their weapons of choice are tools of terror and they stalk their victims with cold-blooded efficiency and ruthless precision. They kill for no other reason than their own warped reasoning and they relish inflicting pain and death. If that doesn’t scare you, then read on…

No-one would suspect he’s a psychopathic madman. Mr Marseille is young, polite, immaculately dressed and would do anything for the love of his life Anabelle. They are ‘kindred and compatible spirits in almost all ways.’

Mr Marseille also has a pretty smile, ‘almost feminine in its deceits,’ and it proves the clinching factor when he and Annabelle lure a teenage girl to her death.

Her strangled body is discovered by a woman cycling past a train depot with her young daughter but what is so shocking is that the victim has been deliberately posed on a newly painted bench. Beside her is a formal invite to a tea dance in a week’s time.

Exactly seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in a disused house, posed on painted swings like a gruesome Victorian tableau. But as well as an identical invite, this time Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano also find a delicate, porcelain doll. They know it sends out a message, and a deadly threat.

With similarities to another child murder ten years earlier, and Marseille and Anabelle still stalking the city, Detectives Byrne and Balzano have just one week to crack the case and stop another innocent child being snatched from the streets.

The Doll Maker is the eighth book in a cracking crime series and the freshness and originality of the stories remains undiminished. Montanari has his finger firmly on the dying pulse of murder most horrible in the latest fearsome and fascinating chiller-thriller with its trademark intelligent plotting, powerful psychology and knife-edge suspense.

Walking an emotional high-wire, negotiating the Machiavellian plot twists and desperately trying to identify the killers is all part of the rollercoaster journey, but those with faint hearts might need breathing stops along the way…

(Sphere, hardback, £12.99)