BOOK TITLE: Resuscitation
AUTHOR: D.M. Annechino
GENRE: Fiction / Thriller
NUMBER OF PAGES: 456
FORMAT: Digital / PDF
SERIES / STANDALONE: Sami Rizzo Thrillers #2
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura Fabiani of iRead book tours for this review copy!
Two years ago, after narrowly escaping the clutches of a psychotic serial killer who held her hostage with intentions of crucifying her, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo hung up her badge. Tortured by nightmares of her near death experience, Sami tries to convince herself that social work will fulfil her need to help and protect victims. But when a second serial killer surfaces —a doctor who is using his victims as guinea pigs for horrific surgical experiments—Sami abandons her goal to be a social worker for a chance to get back on the force and find this monster.
With a little fast-talking, she convinces the police chief and the mayor to reinstate her to the homicide division and begins her hunt for the killer. But as the body count grows and every lead turns out to be a dead end, Sami begins to think that this villain has outsmarted her—until one of the victims survives her ordeal. Suddenly, their cat-and-mouse game takes a sickening turn, and now Sami is the hunted one!
There are benefits and disadvantages to reading a book that is part of a series. Especially for such series where each book can be treated as a standalone and therefore must have at least some form of conclusion for the current problem, the author has to get the attention of the reader in me to make me want to read the next one. As a reader, if the first impression of the first book fell flat or below my expectations, it gets a tad difficult for me to patiently look forward to the next book.
But I really tried to look at Sami as a strong character and read this book, knowing (obviously) that her retirement was temporary and she will be back on force due to some new serial killer looming on the horizon.
'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'
This Star Trek quote, according to the author plagiarised from Aristotle, is what this chilling novel is about. Julian is a brilliant doctor who knows his craft. But his breakthrough finds were pushed under the carpet due to the lack of grant. When he approaches someone else for a grant, they refuse the same under the grounds of lack of data. So what does Julian do? He tries to get more data. And how does he go about doing that? He finds hapless, live victims instead of patients who are really suffering. He picks up his 'healthy' victims in public places and takes them to his lair and performs his experiments on them.
I should have to agree that Julian has the most realistic and saddening character development of all the characters in the book. He is portrayed as the brilliant doctor who regretfully begins to do this just because his grants were reduced and the 'needs of many' were ignored. But slowly (and though it is predictable, it was nicely written) he starts enjoying what he is doing and indulges in his other basic carnal desires on his victims. When he so 'rightly' remembers his Hippocrates' Oath before killing his first victim, his murders after that seem more like acts aimed at giving pleasure to himself rather than the purely scientific approach. This goes on to show that human weaknesses always overpower morals in the lesser mortals and once the first mistake is made, there is no turning back.
Detective Sami Rizzo - seriously traumatised after her crucifixion by a serial killer Simon, gives her job up and tries to go along the 'Social Work' path. But she soon realises that she was not cut out for the profession and would rather be a detective than anything else. On the personal front, her mother is ill and she is not spending much time with her boyfriend. To top it all, her upbringing gives her conscience pricks about living in without marriage. And then there is the presence of a serial killer who is out to kill the public and Sami just cannot sit back twiddling her thumbs while a mad man is at large. She convinces the high and mighty to let her into the job again but her boyfriend has to go back to his only remaining immediate family member who suffered an accident. Alone and clueless, Sami chases the killer.
The story unfolds much like this review does. Two different people, each with their own characteristics. One wronged, delusional serial killer and the other a strong, traumatised detective. It has a lot of potential to develop into a complex chase and give the readers an 'edge of the seat' experience. It could have chilled the readers with the villain becoming more and more powerful and elusive and the detective doing everything right and still being outsmarted, only to finally culminate in a climax where the good triumphs over the evil. But it falters heavily in many places. There are novels where even after finding the lair of the culprits, police could find no leading evidence to catch the killer and incriminate him. And then there is this. All it takes is a single thread to get to Julian and once that is done his sloppiness will incriminate him by itself.
Then there is Sami herself. While I have got nothing against female detectives undergoing a strong personality struggle and still managing to be realistically strong and weak simultaneously, somehow I am not able to connect with Sami as a detective. I do not want to restate the fact that having read about many strong female detectives before her, she does not live up to what I consider as the requisite of a strongly written female protagonist. But if I do put aside this comparison and for once, read the book without thinking and comparing, Sami has a few very good redeeming qualities.
Coming to the plot itself, A delusional serial killer is on a rampage and the detective is hot on his tail. A victim miraculously escapes and the police find the lead that eluded them forever after the dead ends. All of a sudden, the chase is the other way round with the police detective being hunted by the serial killer. Stripped off all the story and the surrounding dialogues, this is the plot. And yeah, whether or not the detective escapes the killer and nails him forms the rest of the story. (This it not the reviewer's take. This is just a paraphrasing of the summary. Yes, really!)
While some people would call this a page turner, I felt that the story followed the predictable path and the twists, when they did come, failed to create a sense of awe in me. To put it in words, when a twist is revealed, the reader should be left reeling with the shock and realisation that it was this way all along and it was only the misinterpretation on their part about what the other told them. Readers should hurry up to reread the book and realise that the facts were, indeed, pointing one way and not the other. But if the same twist leaves the reader with a feeling of 'wait, what is going on here?' the story loses the hold it had over the reader. This is akin to the frustration police might feel when a witness is intentionally misleading them on a wild goose chase.
Overall, the writing needs to be a bit more planned and evoke a sense of better connection between the reader and the characters. The language, though correct, sometimes does leave one wondering if it was fitting. Certain metaphors and similies could have been done better to make the reader go 'ah, yeah wow!' instead of 'ewww'. (Yes, that was an intentional usage of lexical fillers.) The book is a good attempt, but falls flat due to too many cliches, unnecessary twists and the lack of interesting suspense to hold the attention of the reader and stimulate their imagination.
WHAT I LIKED:
- The subtle but brilliant character shift of the killer from a regretful wronged doctor to the cold, calculative serial killer.
- The prologue
- The medical details, for which the author has obviously worked hard.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
- Next time around, keeping the identity of the killer a secret for a bit longer can help creating an interest. The twist at the end seems forced and leaves the reader feeling, 'Wait.. What?'.
- The usual complaint : the book could have a bit more new surprises and twists to offer rather than going in the formulaic route.
- Removing the focus light from important characters abruptly will not work in the favour of the book and plot (yes, I am talking about Al). While a strong lead is important, the book's success lies in the strong supporting cast.
A one time read. And it failed to impress me much, mostly because I am a loyal fan of this genre and expect better. But for new readers, this book offers some thrill and gore. Based on how much violence you can handle, this book can make or break it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor specializing in full-length fiction, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly.
His second book, Resuscitation (Thomas & Mercer 2011), a follow-up to his first novel, hit #1 in Kindle sales in the UK and reached #26 in the USA. He is also the author of I Do Solemnly Swear (Thomas & Mercer 2012) and Hypocrisy. A Piece of You is his fifth novel, the third in the Detective Sami Rizzo series. A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.
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BOOK LINKS: Amazon