The second story from Jack Kerley featuring Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus and another set of murders in Southern Alabama require the unique qualities of this duo, since the supposed perpetrator, Marsden Hexcamp, died over 30 years ago, to find the solution!
At each murder scene a small piece of artwork is left as a tantalizing clue. A strange group of people who collect serial-killer memorabilia come into the frame but since their activities are very much kept in the shadows, none of them seeking any publicity for their macabre hobby, Ryder's investigations are painfully slow. This results in further murders, further pieces of art at the scene and now Ryder has to face the pressures of a very inquisitive crime reporter from the local TV network, DeeDee Danbury whose take on a story is usually a ‘stop-at-nothing' interrogation of hapless suspects.
Now that Ryder and Nautilus have a more understanding chief, they have a little more leeway in their investigations, although teaming up with Danbury was not, initially, on their check-list! Fortunately, Danbury has a cool head on her shoulders and can speak French which is an added bonus when the past activities of Hexcamp started off in a Paris school of art. The action moves over to Paris, back to Alabama and, again as in the previous book, to several meetings with Ryder's deranged brother. This time, the brother has a friend in the same asylum who is also an artist and is also a serial killer so the links in this chain - of the collectors, the pieces of art, the past history and all the members of the school of art now begin to fasten together.
The missing link is just how Ryder is part of this chain and it only hits him when it's pretty much too late to do anything about it. The killer has him in sight and his chances of rescue are slim. It is very unlikely the reader will spot the identity of the killer until just about the same time as Ryder does. Given the efficiency with which the other deaths have been carried out, Ryder is in big trouble…….
This report prepared by michael watson
THE DEATH COLLECTORS marks the welcome return of Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus, the sum total of the Mobile, Alabama Police Department's Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team (PSIT). On the surface Ryder and Nautilus are a mismatch, yet their respective zigs and zags interlock them perfectly. Their PSIT work, alas, only involves one percent of their caseload. But when a woman is found brutally murdered at a by-the-hour hotel, the staged nature of the killing makes it a natural for their investigation.
The men soon discover that the murder, and others that follow, bear an eerie link to Marsden Hexcamp, a homicidal Pied Piper who led a sheeplike troop of followers on a homicidal rampage through the Gulf Coast over thirty years previously. Hexcamp has been dead for three decades, yet he almost seems to be directing the new murders from his grave. The trail leads Ryder and Nautilus to a missing attorney with an apparent link to the murders, as well as to a number of eerie individuals involved in the collecting of serial killing memorabilia.
Ryder and Nautilus reluctantly accept some assistance in their search from DeeDee Danbury, a local television reporter whose attraction to Ryder is not limited to professional matters. What Ryder, Nautilus and Danbury don't realize is that they are closer to the source of the murders than any of them can imagine --- and Ryder, particularly, is on the verge of being the final victim of a killer long deceased.
This report prepared by eyal