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Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Echo Man. Richard Montanari. William Heinemann (2011)

Wonderfully assured and confident thriller, a great cast and superb construction with a solid plot. In Philadelphia a murder victim is found in a basement, he has been tortured and the body staged with care. It emerges that the basement was the location of a previous murder with striking similarities to the recent one. More murders appear that have links with unsolved previous murders. Someone appears to be avenging cold case murders with killings of their own.For detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, both trying to manage significant personal issues of their own, the investigation leads down a dark and bloody path. When it starts to point to an episode in Kevin Bryne's past the story arcs to a superbly staged and unexpected climax.
The terrific pleasure of this book is the way Richard Montanari confidently takes control of the reader and heads off with the story. There are a lot of threads in the story, it moves around its large cast with care and skill, giving each of the characters enough time space and energy to come to life. The control of the story never wavers, the various sidelights and sub-plots are paced and placed with thoughtful expertise and add greatly to the story rather than diluting it. The reveals are cunningly staged and Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are committed and forceful, driven by a belief in law based justice.
The main plot is wonderfully, operatically melodramatic and overblown and within the confines of the story gripping and utterly plausible. The cast are engaging enough and the momentum of the investigation great enough that the theatrical elements of the plot add to the pleasure of the story. A unmitigated joy.

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