Saturday, November 3, 2007

Review of Die With Me

Die With Me (Macadam Cage, 2007), by first time novelist Elena Forbes, is a competent, but hardly compelling, thriller. It focuses on London detective Mark Tartaglia’s search for a killer who seduces young girls over the Internet and then tosses them from high places. If this were all Tartaglia had to deal with it would be enough, but his boss and best friend is in a coma after a motorcycle accident and the woman brought in to replace him rubs him the wrong way and she might have a stalker and his partner’s love life is unfulfilling and his sister wants him to come to Sunday dinner and he’s been sleeping with the coroner who neglected to tell him she had a boyfriend. One might be tempted to say that Tartaglia’s real problem is not the killer but the sheer number of needy women in his life. It’s a wonder he’s not the one chucking female members of the species off bridges.

Even if you just chalk up Tartaglia’s patience with what goes on around him to a preternatural tolerance for annoying, selfish women, it’s still too much. Forbes juggles too many subplots and too many points-of-view. She never does it poorly. It’s always easy to tell what’s going on and whose perspective is being presented, but it all takes away from the central plot. Despite repeated chapters presented from the killer’s point-of-view, the murder mystery almost feels like an afterthought. The result is that the killer, when he surfaces in the investigation, is easy to spot, unless the reader is just not paying attention. Forbes would have been well served to have spent more time cultivating suspects and leading her characters down convincing blind alleys than dwelling on their personal lives.

Forbes could have also crafted a more compelling villain. His motivations are textbook (he had a less than ideal childhood, don’t you know) and his choice of victims and method of killing are not exactly terrifying. Tossing Emo kids to their deaths might, in some circles, be considered a public service. The fact that Forbes ends her book with a setup for a sequel featuring the same killer, does not bode well for the next installment in the series.

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