Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope

Minotaur Books, 320 pages, $26 (anticipated release date - 6/28/16)

Author Spencer Kope has created an unusual character in FBI Operations Specialist Magnus Craig in Kope's debut novel..

Magnus, or "Steps," as he has been nicknamed, has the capacity to see auras or "shine," as he calls it. Every person leaves a trace of him- or herself throughout life on the surfaces he or she touches.  Steps was left with this ability after a mysterious incident in his childhood. With the help of the few people who know of his ability, he has managed to bring his "talent" under control. He now uses it to track missing people for the FBI.

Steps is an endearing character, not macho or even sociable. Wracked with other psychological disabilities, Steps is out of step a lot of the time, but not when it comes to his job.

Special Agent James Donovan is Steps' partner. He is one of the few who knows about "shine." Together they track missing people, some of whom are victims of serial killers. Donovan helps Steps cover up his talent. They concoct an acceptable way to logically present their process for arrest and prosecution. Your Honor, I saw a shining trail leading to the victim just won't cut it in court.

As we follow Steps, our narrator, we discover that he and his partner have come across another serial killer, whom they dub "The Sad Face Killer" for his trademark sad face design left during the course of his killing. Steps can also discern whether a person is still alive by looking at the person's shine. One of the young women presumably kidnapped by the killer is still alive, and it's a race to find her. It is also a race to find the killer before he turns the tables on Steps and Donovan, and makes them his targets. After all, Steps' talent can only say where the killer has been, not what he is going to do.

Crafted with likable main characters and associates, and an interesting plot, "Collecting the Dead" should be the start of a long-lived series.

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