Is it wrong to say a book is delightful if it’s called The Killer’s Handbook? Because that’s what Robert P. Maroney’s second mystery novel is, from the first unsettling pages to the unpredictable ending. In the latest installment of his Detective Nicholas Pearce series, Maroney puts the officially retired investigator on a bizarre new case that not only puts him on the trail of several abductions and murders, but also directly into the mind of a killer.
That, oddly, is the delightful part. It turns out that a killer’s mind is not as simple as you might expect. In fact, it’s quite complicated and highly engaging. While Maroney and his partner-with-benefits Addie use page-turning, but conventional, detective work to track down the killers who are dumping girls’ bodies in the river, there’s someone else working this case. It’s a man known only by his online handle—Reaper—and he’s written a killer’s handbook. Maroney expertly explores Reaper’s possible role in the murders, engaging us in the twists of Reaper’s mind, and making us wonder about his motives and how far he’ll go to achieve them. It’s a mystery for the Internet age, where clues like tire tracks and footprints are convincingly replaced by chat room transcripts and trails of IP addresses.
Maroney is equally at home with high-stakes suspense scenes that will have you holding your breath, and the complex logic puzzles necessary to solve the mystery. Add in affectionate banter, a very believable Louisville, Kentucky setting and an aging detective’s inner musings, and you have a well-balanced novel as well as a riveting mystery. Readers will look forward to Nicholas Pearce’s next case.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.