It's Book Review Wednesday! Today, I'm reviewing a book that is VERY different from anything else I've read before. All in all, an intriguing look at one of the country's most famous serial killers: the Zodiac Killer…
In the 1960's and 1970's, a serial killer terrorized San Francisco, California. He taunted police and the media by sending them cryptic messages and named himself the Zodiac Killer. The killings stopped and he was never identified.
In 2000, a toddler began having nightmares about a murder 3,000 miles away--and two decades prior. When her dreams led police to clues which connect Zodiac to an unsolved murder, he emerged from his dormancy. Now no one is safe.
My Review: 4 Stars
Overall, I found the book to be an enjoyable read. I've always been fascinated by the Zodiac Killer, who has never been caught. The way this book portrayed the killer was unique, and well-written. While I'm not big on mystery thrillers, I can't deny that I had a hard time putting this book down.
The characters are a bit flat and two-dimensional. The killer is really the only one that is fleshed out. Everyone else (even the main characters) are about what you'd expect, with no real depth to them. I also found it hard to believe the child would suddenly adopt the personality of a dead woman. I know of no neurological condition that would explain the phenomenon. (That being said, if there is one, I'm willing to accept it.)
As expected, a number of characters die throughout the book. Most of the main character deaths were written well, but there was one that happened "off screen", with ZERO tension or suspension. It was as if the author forgot that the character had to die, and wrote it in as an afterthought. Also, the romances in the book felt a wee bit forced.
However, despite the (admittedly minor) flaws, the book was a good read. If you enjoy serial killers and mystery thrillers, it's a story for you.
Here's a Taste:
Owls hooted and coyotes howled in the blackness surrounding him as the wind rustled through the trees. A lonely dirt road wound through the tall grass, and a car with two young occupants parked near a creek bed.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Son, you have to crouch down like a tiger then pounce.” The man beside him, dressed in black, carried a .45 caliber handgun.
“Now the trick is ta startle 'em. They'll be neckin' and won't see ya comin'. Make a noise to get their attention.” The man handed him the gun, just as he had done in shooting practice with tin cans. But these were not cans, and this was no practice.
He did as he was told and slunk up to the side of the ‘54 Chevy. Shadows inside the car moved about as he peeked in the foggy windows. The older man waved his hand, urging him to continue.
He took a deep breath, gathered his courage, and tapped the snout of the gun on the window.
“Did you hear something?” asked a female voice from inside the car.
A male voice responded, “Only the beat of my love-filled heart for you.” The people shifted inside the vehicle, rocking the icy steel of the car against his arm.
Louder, she said, “I'm not kiddin'. I heard somethin'. Ya better get out there and take a look, or you better be fixin' to take me home right now, Bobby Joe.”
“Oh c’mon, Suzie. Ain't nothin' out there. You do this every time we get to the good stuff.”
He inched along the side of the car, just below the window.
His heart raced as he balled his sweaty palms. The gun in his hand weighed a hundred times more than it did before.
“Shh!” Bobby Joe whispered.
“See, ya heard it, too. I'm not—”
“I said shh!”
He pulled a buck knife out from his back pocket and plunged it deep into the back tire. The air hissed, echoing in the night, as the car's weight shifted to one side.
“Somebody's out there! Do somethin'.”
The car engine tried to turn over, but did not start. It cranked again and again, but nothing. “Help! Do somethin'!”
As he shot through the window, the boom echoed through the night and crackling glass fell everywhere. The recoil knocked him to the ground, twisting his ankle. Screams came from inside the car, as the steel gun slipped in his moist hands. Kneeling on the ground, he squared his shoulders, aimed the gun with two hands, and shot through the window a second time. Claps and cheers came from the man behind him.
As the screams continued, the passenger door opened and a woman in a dark dress came barreling out. Her hands flapped about aimlessly as she ran into the night toward the lake.
“Do it, son. Get her now.”
He hesitated before he stumbled to his feet, peering inside the car. Blood. Everywhere, there was blood. The dark, thick liquid bubbled from the man's head and oozed down in all directions.
His father ran to his side. “A head shot from the outside. I'm proud of ya. Means it's gonna be a great year.”
The woman screamed again, trapped between the lake and the killers. The father leaned into his ear. “Now, finish 'er off. This is yer big day. Yer a man afta today.”
He stared at her and shuffled his feet, limping on his injured ankle. Pain jolted through his body, as adrenaline pumped through him. Even his temples throbbed with anticipation and anxiety.
The woman fell to her knees and clasped her hands, begging. “Please, please don't. I ain't gonna tell nobody. I promise. Just let me go. Please.” The word came out in a three part gasp as tears streamed down her face. Her entire body trembled.
He tilted his head as make-up ran down her face. She looked like a clown and a helpless child at the same time. Leveled with her forehead, the gun wobbled in his hand but edged closer to her.
“That's my boy! Do it ... Do it now,” urged the father.
He looked over his shoulder, with the barrel of the gun pressed into the woman's face. “Do I have to, Papa? She ain't gonna tell no one.” Tears trickled down his face, and his nostrils flared.
The older man stampeded toward them and raised a hand in the air. Something metal hit the side of his head, flinging him to the ground. The man stomped and kicked him over and over, causing him to vomit. The foul taste of acid lingered on his tongue and floated up his nose.
The man's finger pointed in his face. “When I tell ya to do somethin', boy, ya better do it!” Again, the hand came down upon his head and back. Trying to defend himself, he raised his forearms above his head and curled in a fetal position on the ground.
The woman screamed in the distance. They both looked toward the voice, watching as she ran several yards away from them.
Another whack to the head. “Now I gotta go chase her. Yer gonna pay for this one.” The man hustled toward the screams, almost out of sight in the dark.
Bang. Bang. Bang
The screaming stopped.
About the Author:
Rhoda D'Ettore grew up in southern New Jersey in the Philadelphia suburbs. Growing up with five siblings has given her a variety of humorous stories and personalities to inject into her writing. She began her writing career with her first story, "Goin' Postal: True Stories of a US Postal Worker" which relayed humorous anecdotes about postal life the public never sees. Can you imagine finding alligators, bombs, or even human heads in the mail? After 16 years of working for the USPS, she recently resigned and has gotten her Class A CDL license. She is currently on the road as a long haul truck driver, while at the same time, continuing to write. And boy, does she have new experiences to draw from as inspiration for new works.
In addition to writing, she loves animals, traveling, and helping others. In the past she volunteered for a dalmatian rescue group as well as veteran organizations. True to helping others, she has resources on her blog and website, including podcasts, to help new authors. Fun to her is anything from bungee jumping to jet skiing. And just like those thrilling things, she loves a great read that takes her on a roller coaster of emotions.
Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Zodiac-Lives-Rhoda-DEttore/dp/1511601523/
Read Rhoda's thoughts on her website: www.rhodadettore.com
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