23 April 2012

Review: Cuts Like a Knife by MK Gilroy

The opening chapter of Cuts Like a Knifeis narrated by a psychopath planning his next event, and is spine-chillingly outstanding. The main narrator is Kristen, and her point of view is interspersed with short chapters from the murderer and from a online vlogger.

Kristen is a Chicago Police Department detective, soccer coach for her niece’s team, and almost-ex girlfriend of Dell (it would be a lot easier to become the ex if Mom didn’t keep inviting him home for dinner). She’s just been appointed to a team investigating the murder of a young woman, because the FBI suspect she isn’t a lone victim: instead, she is the 48th victim of a serial killer that has struck six previous cities.

Kristen is a very matter of fact narrator with a dry sense of humour. She's not a girlie girl, but that fits her tough persona, a hardnosed cop in a family where her sisters have achieved as stereotypical women (one is a pastor's wife, the other is a beautiful TV news reporter). Kristen is not even close to perfect, unlike many Christian fiction heroines. She has anger issues stemming from her father's death, she disobeys orders and while she can hold up her end in a fight, she is not great with a firearm.

It soon becomes apparent to the reader that the killer is setting Kristen up to be his victim, which raises the ante and makes finding him even more important, but then there is a twist... I don't put spoilers in my reviews but I have to say that this one kept me on the edge. Gilroy is good at employing flashes of humour to cut through the tension, and at giving us a feel for the level of horror without needing to spell out the gory details.

As a Christian literary agent, Mark Gilroy will have seen thousands of manuscripts, and must have a pretty good idea of what is good and what sells. Knowing what is good and what is not does not automatically mean that you (or I) can write something that actually is good. But Mark has managed to cross this barrier, and I recommend Cuts Like a Knifeto anyone who likes a good thriller.  I hope the ending is setting us up for a sequel, because this is an excellent first novel, and I would certainly read more from Mark Gilroy. Just not late at night...

Thanks to Worthy Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Mark at his website.

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