Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Review: Ladykiller

Authors: Lawrence Light & Meredith Anthony
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ISBN: 10-1-933515-05-8

NYPD detective Dave Dillon is a good cop with terrible taste in women. His last doomed love affair nearly cost him his job. As it stands now, if he doesn’t find the serial murderer known as the Ladykiller, his career will be ruined forever. Dave follows the clues to the West Side Crisis Center, where he meets an interesting assortment of social workers. When one of the center’s counselors is murdered, Dave knows that he is closing in on the killer. The story hurtles forward at a breakneck pace until a breathtaking showdown in a city park. Then, just as the reader believes the story is winding down, the authors add one more twist to the plot and the book concludes on a bone-chilling note.

Ladykiller is an engrossing story in which the momentum builds from page one and never stops. One mildly disconcerting quirk is an early, unexpected turn in plot development. The story begins as a whodunit mystery in which the reader expects to follow the detective in deciphering clues and unveiling the killer’s identity. Then, about 20% of the way into the story, the killer is revealed and the story shifts to a cat-and-mouse tale in which the killer and the detective seek to outwit each other. This plot shift briefly throws the reader off-balance but, in general, the authors manage it skillfully and the story moves forward without faltering.

Light and Anthony give their story a strong setting with their lucid portraits of city streets and neighborhoods. Their character development skills are not quite as strong, or, perhaps, not as evenly applied. Dave Dillon, the main character is fairly interesting and the authors skillfully pace their revelations of his past and personality throughout the book. The book’s other characters don’t fare as well. For example, I wish Dave’s mother had played a larger role in the book, as her story could have added an intriguing dimension to the plot. Furthermore, Nita is relentlessly domineering and Megan is nauseatingly submissive and indecisive. Most of the other characters are similarly one-dimensional and the reader gains little sense of what motivates them to act and speak as they do. In general, the characters seem to be sketched rather than filled with flesh and blood. Clearly, this story’s appeal rests on fast-paced plotting and vivid setting rather than intense or moving characters.

Ladykiller is ideal for reading on a plane or at the beach. Readers who like mysteries and suspense thrillers will find it good for a couple of hours of entertainment.

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