The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari
Genre: Police Thriller
Publisher: Little Brown
Richard Montanari’s The Doll Maker is the eighth book in the Byrne and Balzano police detective series. I have not read any other books in the series, but I liked it so much that I am going to go back to the first novel, The Rosary Girls, and start now.
The story starts out with a very creepy situation: “He knew the moment she walked in. It wasn’t the way she was dressed—he had been fooled by this more often than he had been right, and he had been right many times—it was, instead, the way her heels fell on the old hardwood floor, the weight of her stride, the way he knew she’d put a thousand sad stories to bed.” Upon reading this, I was hopeful that we were looking at a man seeing a woman with whom he might fall in love, wanting to heal her after all her sad stories. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The eerie book cover was the first clue to the oddness of something or someone in this novel.
|Philadelphia’s famous “Roundhouse” Police Headquarters.
Around Philadelphia, children are being murdered and posed in specific situations. At each crime scene a porcelain doll is found, designed to look exactly like the victim of the previous murder. An invitation is also found, indicating the date of the next murder. It is up to long-time partners Jessica Byrne and Kevin Balzano to figure out what this killer is trying to tell the people of Philadelphia. Their investigation takes them all over the city, to specialty collectible shops, a hardware store, a long-abandoned home, and college campuses. In fact, the city of Philadelphia is almost a main character itself. I have only visited the City of Brotherly love once but felt I was there and could see the different neighborhoods as Byrne and Balzano hit the sidewalks to talk to neighbors and follow several red herrings.
Again, I truly enjoyed The Doll Maker, even staying up until 3:00 one night to try and finish. I was unsuccessful, but sat down with my coffee the next morning and didn’t stop reading until I was done.
Many thanks to Little, Brown, who gave me an advance electronic copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – From his web site.
Richard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the scion of a traditional Italian-American family, which means he learned two things very early in life. One: ravioli tastes much better than baby formula. Two: if you don’t get to the table on time, there is no ravioli.
After an undistinguished academic career, Richard traveled Europe extensively, living in London for a time, where he sold clothing in Chelsea, and foreign language encyclopedias door-to-door in Hampstead Heath. Needless to say, he hawked a few more ties than tomes, but neither job paid enough to keep him in beer and Skittles.
So, abandoning his dream (that being to become the next Bryan Ferry), he returned to the States and joined his family’s construction firm. Five years and a hundred smashed thumbs later, he decided that writing might be a better job.
After working as a freelance writer for years, during which time he was published in more than two hundred publications — including The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, and many others — Richard wrote three pages of what was to become the first chapter of Deviant Way. He was immediately signed to a New York agency.
When he finished the book, Michael Korda signed him to a two-book deal at Simon & Schuster. In 1996, Deviant Way won the OLMA for Best First Mystery.