Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl
The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…
When Emma awakens in total darkness, she is aware of her nakedness. Injuries. A bed not her own. A blindingly bright light suddenly pierces the blackness and a disembodied male voice calls her “Venus”.
Venus – the goddess of love, beauty, sex and desire. He says she is "Venus Six". What does this predator want from her? Can she outwit the masked man who demands to be called “Master”? Or will he be looking for Venus Seven?
Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer…
This is dark fiction – we live each day with the incarcerated victim, the perpetrator is twisted, sick and clever. The icing on the cake is that there’s an unexpected accomplice supporting the perpetrator and doing a chunk of the thinking for him – I really enjoyed that accomplice.
John Nicholl has a unique style. There’s immediacy in his writing and an informality. For instance, Emma’s internal dialogue takes you right into her mind. Another aspect that worked well for me was the banter and (darkish) humour between the DI Gravel and his long-time colleague, DS Rankin. Their exchanges made them very likeable.
The downside of Nicholl’s style is that he uses plenty of long-winded sentences that run on far too long, but that was a minor irritation. I have to say too, this story didn’t shed that positive a light on the police, since the advances in the case seemed to be ad-hoc and come by circumstance rather than great detection.
Some of the things the perpetrator made the victim do, turned my stomach, and since I’m a seasoned thriller reader (and writer), that’s saying something.
The ending was abrupt but it worked for me.
Maybe it sounds like I didn’t like this book, but I really did. This books works! It’s original. It’s got a punch. So forget any literary snobbery and enjoy it. (By the way, I gave it a rare Five Stars.)
Photoshot of John Nicholl
Five Things You Didn’t Know about John Nicholl
1. Fifty-six year old John Nicholl is happily married with three adult children and one grandchild. He and his wife met when they were just sixteen.
2. He lives in beautiful West Wales where he grew up, and spent most of his working life as a police officer, child protection social worker, manager and lecturer.
3. He has written three Amazon # 1 bestselling darkly psychological suspense thrillers, and is currently working on a fourth, which he hopes to complete by the summer. Given his professional experiences, he feels the genre chose him.
4. John has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and fought in competition, but it’s yoga and swimming that interest him these days.
5. John is a big sports fan, and particularly enjoys watching boxing, rugby and football (if Wales or Swansea are playing). He can sometimes be found at the Swansea City ground with his youngest son.
John has two other published books and they’re both thrillers (yay!) You can find more information here http://www.johnnicholl.com/
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