Monday, May 18, 2009

"Dangerously Innocent" by Nesrine Joseph

A methodical serial killer is plaguing suburban Sydney. Detectives Luther James and Rochelle Trevelyan have just been called to the scene where the fourth victim has been brutally murdered - decapitated in his own home - while his wife showered. The Slicer murders, as the crimes have been dubbed, seem to be random acts of violence. The only connection is that all of the victims have been men, and all have had a body part (or two) removed with surgical precision.

The first break that the police get is when they discover their seemingly happily married fourth victim was actually being unfaithful to his wife - on a nightly basis. His mistress is a beautiful med student, Marissa Martin, whose life has been littered by one personal tragedy after another. She is seemingly torn up about the sudden and barbaric death of her lover - a man she believed to be the true love of her life. She tells the detectives that the two of them had had a fight the night before the murder, centralizing around the fact that he wanted to disclose his affair to his wife. Marissa suggests that perhaps the police should be taking a closer look at the new widow, as she would have a very clear motive for the crime.

As the investigation continues, red herrings abound. Like any good mystery, pretty much every character is a suspect. And while you may solve half of the riddle, there is a high probability that the other half will keep you guessing until the end.

All in all, Dangerously Innocent was a pretty good read. It had a good plot and was very engaging. However, it was really quite short (only 147 pages), and was laid out in a manner that I found a little confusing. You jumped from different characters points of view with no preamble, and had to take a moment to figure out where you had gone. If I had been publishing the book, I would have either cleaned up the language a little and targeted a young adult audience (think Christopher Pike or R.L. Stein), or added another hundred or so pages and developed the characters a little better. However, for what it was, Dangerously Innocent was a surprisingly satisfying read that would surely be enjoyed by lovers of mystery and horror novels alike. Taking into consideration that this is Nesrine Joseph's debut novel, I feel comfortable giving it a three star rating. If you go into it expecting a short and intense read, you shouldn't be disappointed.

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