Friday, October 22, 2021

Fiona Cummins - Rattle

On still nights, when the curve of a winter moon is smudged in the flow of the River Quaggy, the dead clamor for him. And sometimes he coaxes the living to join them. To other people, his victims might be mere medical oddities. To him, they are fascinating specimens, worthy of display. Above all, he is a collector, eager for recognition even as he hides in the shadows. Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy is the first to recognize the connection between the disappearance of a young girl and a cold case that almost cost her the career she's sacrificed so much for. A faceless psychopath is walking the streets of London, tantalizing the authorities with clues, taunting them with his ability to spirit his victims out from under their very noses. Better than anyone, Etta Fitzroy understands loss. But this is one contest she will win if it kills her . . . 

Comment: I was given this book for my birthday last month. I was warned perhaps the story would be too heavy and I might not want to read it, so the gift was a gamble but, although this isn't my preferred genre, I often read mystery and psychological thrillers but I went for it with caution.

In this book we meet a cast of characters involved in a serial killer's plans to add to his collection of weird things, namely bones with deformity. This is now a family inheritance so the killer is looking for people who might have bone deformities, such as Jackey, a little boy with a rare bone condition and Clare, a little girl with only two fingers in each hand. Clare is kidnapped first and of course the police is involved, especially detective Etta Fitzroy, who feels her personal and professional lives too close on this one. Will the police find the killer and stop him before any of the children are dead?

The mention of serial killer and danger and other common enough words in the world of mystery books certainly bring to mind an obvious idea of what a story is supposed to be or what kind of content it might have but I must say that, for a book about a serial killer, the death count was pretty much non existent and most of the really bad scenes were talked about and described but didn't really happen on page. Meaning, the really awful stuff was referenced but we didn't see it happen. In turn, the author opted to graphically describe some things for bigger shocker factor (I would say).

The story is, the way I see it, more focused on how the several characters interact and deal with one another as the search for the children happens, how everyone is affected, how their lives suffer from the stress and the emotional weight. We also get to learn things about them, in terms of their personal lives and past, and how that explains some of their choices or paths.

I don't think this is much different from the usual mystery/thriller but I see why some readers have thought so, after all this is a debut and already very well structured - it even bears in mind that there is a sequel - in particular by delaying the events into small occasions. The idea must be to cause suspense and the fear of when something bad will really happen but to be honest, I rarely felt that impact. Or this wasn't as terrifying as that or I was simply too invested in the personal situations of the characters.

This is the type of book where things are narrated in third person but each chapter is focused on a specific character and that makes it easier for us to connect with them and want to learn more. On one way, I tend to like this method and it's a good way to distinguish between likable or unappealing characters but on the other hand, it can be very easy to be distracted by secondary issues and at some point I was a little tired of too much delay, I kind of wanted things to speed up so that the good guys could solve the case.

I was quite interested in the medical details, such as why the little kids had been born with their physical problems and it shows the author must have done research to include certain information. This is, after all, the best part, to learn things or to have different sides/perspectives of them. The reason why the serial killer focused on that, though, wasn't as complex as I imagined. In fact, the whole motivation was a little under developed, in my opinion. If the reason was a severe psychological brainwash by the killer's father, I surely hoped for stronger bases...the way things happened...not so much.

The end is more or less open. Some things seem to be sort of solved but there was an intention of continuing things in the next book. I mean, I feel satisfied enough by how things were solved, crime wise, but there are loose threads to fix and also some closure to be gained in relation to the main characters. I'm not certain I'll read the next story, though. Not so soon, but perhaps one day, just to see what kind of wrapping up the author chooses.

Grade: 7/10

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