Introducing Carson Ryder, his senior partner in a newly formed crime squad, Harry Nautilus describes him as ‘The Hundredth Man', the one who will always grope in the dark for revealing clues when the other ninety nine would prefer to search in the light! And so we immediately understand that Ryder is just a little bit different from your average homicide cop.
A serial killer is on the loose in Alabama, leaving bodies to be conveniently found - always without a head and always with strange writing on the torso.
Ryder's unconventional thinking starts to bring together a reason why these murders are happening and he's given some assistance by his schizophrenic brother, Jeremy, incarcerated for a series of murders committed whilst Ryder was only a relatively young boy but whose mind is tuned into the way serial killers are thinking.
Meanwhile, the autopsies also begin to cast a little light on to the situation with a new pathologist, Ava Davanelle, leading the way. Unfortunately, Ava has an alcohol problem that begins to involve Ryder on a personal basis, so much so that their jobs are on the line unless some speedy solutions are found to stop the killer. Regrettably, speedy solutions are not available and Ryder, whilst avoiding his publicity-seeking senior officers with their own agenda for coming up with the killer, slowly pieces together – with further input from his brother – just who and why the killer is doing what he does.
This report prepared by michael watson
Dutton, June 2004, 23.95, 320 pp.
It was Alexander Caufield's first autopsy as a pathologist for the mobile Alabama police department and it went well until Dr. Caufield found an object in the victim's anus that exploded and destroyed his hand. The head pathologist Dr. Peltier hires Dr. Ava Davenelle as his replacement and Detective Carson Ryder who is observing the autopsy is almost immediately smitten. The case Carson is working on involves a victim with his head surgically removed from his body in almost perfect condition except for the knife wounds that that the killer inflicted.
Ava finds writings on the public area of the body and Carson thinks they are dealing with a sociopath personality. A special unit was formed to deal with killers like that with Carson and his partner heading up the unit but police politics push them into a lesser role. Two more decapitated victims are found, also with bizarre writing on their torso. Carson finally takes Ava on a date but she passes out from to much alcohol. He uses his connections to help her fight the disease while looking for a killer who will strike again and this time the victim could be someone he knows.
Jack Kerley's debut novel is a serial killer thriller that is on a par with the likes of Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell. The protagonist comes from a dysfunctional background and has his own problems but that doesn't stop him from being an expert detective with an intuitive sense that helps him solve cases.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner