Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of "Last Breath" by Robert Bryndza

In this fourth book in the series, Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster's big mouth and abrasive attitude have got her booted off Lewisham's Murder Investigation Team (MIT) and stuck with a boring desk job. When the horribly battered body of a half-naked young woman is found in a London dumpster, Erika - on her own initiative - connects the killing to another murder a few months before. Desperate to get back on the MIT and investigate the appalling crimes, Erika is willing to do almost anything - even apologize to her nemesis, Superintendent Sparks.

Before long Erika is the Senior Investigative Officer in the cases of the murdered girls, working with her usual team, including Peterson, Moss, and Crane. Erika thinks a serial killer is at work, and she's proven right when a third body turns up in a dumpster. The top brass at Scotland Yard, fearing bad publicity and public backlash, put pressure on Erika to catch the perp - but budget constraints limit the resources assigned to her.

We learn that the killer is a short, pudgy office worker who resents the fact that attractive women won't look at him twice. Wanting revenge against women, the killer repeatedly creates fake profiles on social media to 'catfish' a pretty brunette and lure her into meeting him. He then kidnaps, cages, tortures, and murders the victim. When a not-so-attractive woman - the perp's awkward co-worker - invites him to a movie, he can barely stand to be with her.....which is pretty ironic.

The story alternates between the police investigation and the killer's activities. The description of the perp's step-by-step method of tracking, luring, and torturing his victims ratchets up the tension, and I had to take periodic breaks from the book. I hate the killer, despise his parents (a dismissive father and weak mother), and I'm not crazy about his dog, Grendel (though she doesn't know any better).

On the other hand, I admire the hard-working, dedicated detectives, who work day and night to stop the murderer and hopefully rescue a fourth victim. Erika is still experiencing angst about her cop husband who was killed in the line of duty, but a burgeoning relationship between Erika and Peterson may signal better times ahead.

The story held my attention and I was anxious to see how things played out. It was also interesting to see how the detectives discover clues, make deductions, and track down the killer. My one quibble: books that feature cops vs. a sociopathic serial killer are pretty common, and the story has a familiar ring.

Still, I'd recommend the book to people who like thrillers, especially fans of Erika Foster.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Robert Bryndza) and the publisher (Bookouture) for a copy of the book.

Rating: 3 stars