Synopsis from Goodreads:
The severed arms of five girls who vanished in broad daylight are discovered buried in a clearing in the woods. Alive or dead, the remainder of the girls’ bodies are nowhere to be found. Worse still, there is a sixth, yet to be identified.
At first, the case seems simple. A series of clues leads investigators Mila Vasquez, a celebrated profiler with an attitude problem who is an expert in crimes relating to children, and Goran Gavila, the eerily prescient criminologist who sees deeper into Mila’s dark past than any man has before, to a twisted killer. But when they begin to follow the leads for the second missing child, it points in a vastly different direction.
Vasquez and Gavila begin to wonder if they’ve been brought in to take the fall in a near-hopeless case. Is it all coincidence? Copycats? Or, is there a mastermind of evil behind the killings? And if so, from where is he conducting his symphony of murder?
Obsessed with a case that becomes more tangled and intense as they unravel the layers of evil, Gavila and Vasquez find that their lives are increasingly in each other’s hands….
The Cover: I love the cover of this book. The color is striking and the butterfly is a clue.
The First Line: “I wish to inform you about the strange case of one of our inmates.” This is the first line of the letter that serves as a prologue. I really like this. I’m intrigued enough to keep reading.
The Good: This starts out as a great mystery. Since the setting is in Italy, it was fascinating to read about the legal practices and police procedures in another country. The central story arc is finding the killer of five young girls and the identity of a sixth. Mila Vasquez is brought in to identify and find the sixth victim. She joins an established team of investigators headed by Dr. Goran Gavila, an esteemed criminologist.
Mila is an interesting character who comes across as caring, yet cold, and you want to know why she is the way she is. Goran is highly intelligent with deep dark secrets of his own. The characters are well rounded if a bit on the cold side, but they were difficult to care about for me. The plot of the story really carried me forward more than the characters.
The Bad: All great thrillers have unexpected twists. The key is to make those twists plausible. Up until the appearance of the character Nicla, the novel was fast-paced and hard to put down. Nicla has a special ability and the possibility of such things should have been introduced early on. It felt like an easy out to use a character such as Nicla instead of having Mila and Goran discover things through their investigation techniques. After that, the some of twists and turns became less believable and caused me to lose interest.
Recommendation: If you like literary thrillers, go for it. If you’re a causal reader of this genre, I’d recommend skipping it or getting it from the library.