Book Review: The Postcard Killers by James Patterson & Liza Marklund

15 Nov

The Postcard KillersGenre: Crime thriller

Publisher: Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown and Company imprint)

Source: From Publisher via NetGalley

Pub date: 16th Aug, 2010

The Postcard Killers is an action-packed, drama-filled mystery from start to finish. American author James Patterson has teamed up with Swedish journalist and crime fiction writer Liza Marklund in this stand-alone crime thriller.

Synopsis:

Young couples travelling in Europe are being killed and grotesquely posed. The killers send postcards to various reporters in each city before the murders and follow up with Polaroid pictures of the posed bodies. NYPD detective Jacob bullies his way into the investigation in Sweden, distraught over having lost his daughter to the same killers in Rome. He teams up with Dessie Larsson, a reporter in Sweden after she receives the postcards from the killers.

Serial killers who are extremely smart, multiple police departments across Europe and a cop with no official capacity makes this case even more challenging. Jacob is bullish in his attempts to get the Swedish police department to let him help and get them to take his help. He has been all over Europe, so close to the killers, but this time he feels that it is going to come to an end.

Even when all the evidence seems against it, Jacob is convinced that the killers are so smart that they are fooling everyone including the police and the media.

Review:

This is a fast paced, action filled thriller, and as a quick entertainer is a good book to read. This is also my first James Patterson novel, so I don’t have any frame of reference, but given the genre, I have no major complaints. When I pick up a thriller it is very much for the thrill and quick pacing. If the characterisation is wonderful and the writing excellent, then they are just the cherries on top.

In this story, we are introduced to the killers and see things from their point of view right at the beginning and that adds to the excitement. I found myself egging Jacob and Dessie on, waiting for them to make the connection.

There is no escaping the Dan Brown reference since art plays a big role in this story. But small brushes with Dan Brown are pretty much all we see, and even that fits in quite well with this story.

What I didn’t like were unfortunately the main characters. While I could get behind Jacob’s frustration and grief, I didn’t like him, and Dessie was not someone I took to. I’d say that their characters were not very carefully drawn out. The character I did like was Gabriella – the gruff police inspector. Even though she has personal issues with Dessie and has no reason to work with Jacob, she puts catching the killers above other issues and comes through.

I could have done without the romantic bits as well. While I know that has to happen, it could have waited till the bad guys were put away to explore, but that’s just me.

In terms of writing, while the pace was good and the description of locations just right (there was not so much that it took away from the story), there was a little bit more of the telling rather than showing.

Verdict:

A good read if you like a quick easy thriller. Don’t look for deep characterisation or psychological insight. The locales are lovely and the art an added dimension that I truly enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5

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