The Killing Room – Richard Montanari

Set in Philadelphia, this crime novel features Montanari’s regular cop duo of Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, hunting a serial killer who leaves bodies (and clues as to the next killing) in abandoned churches.

The backdrop could be any modern western city, so any unique flavor must come from the characters. In that regard, Byrne and Balzano are believable, credible, and interesting. They are not infallible, but neither are they so messed up that they turn the reader off. They are a good team – again, not perfect – who get the job done in difficult circumstances.

The crimes and the protagonist are less believable and credible, but within what I might call the limits of modern crime novel suspension of disbelief requirements; in other words, some of this stuff is too far fetched, but the author just about carries it off. Don’t misunderstand me; the crimes are horrible, and the killer is a well sketched piece of evil. You will get value for money there.

The plot is not bad, but is not exactly brimming with twists. However, the pace of the story is rapid, as the tension builds along the simple race to get the killer before it’s too late for the next victim. It’s a good page turner which is well written, often engrossing, and ultimately quite satisfying.

Score: 7.5/10.