The psychological profiling and tracking of serial killers in books, television and film is extremely interesting to me. The first book that I encountered along those lines was “Silence of the Lambs” and I devoured all of the prequels and sequels to that book as they came out. FBI agents’ freaky ability to get into a serial killer’s head and predict what, where, when and how is FASCINATING. Walking that very thin line between having a healthy mind and one that can process the mind of a monster is stuff that drama is made of.
So, I was already a fan of Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling’s Thomas Harris when I picked up this new book; his first in over a decade. I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. Well, I guess that I am but I’m disappointed about it.
This book leans heavily on the super unhinged dude with super dark proclivities part of the scale. The FBI profiling super kick ass woman who is not taking that AT ALL part of the scale is, unfortunately, not weighted enough. With the FBI and other authorities taking a seat waaayyyy in the back of this particular bus, our super kick ass woman is Cari Mora, who was conscripted at 11 to become a child soldier for Colombian revolutionaries. Eventually escaping to Miami, Cari Mora works odd jobs, one of which is as a caretaker for the vacant home of Pablo Escobar in Miami Beach. Rented out as a location for television and film until it can be sold, the house is believed to rest on a buried treasure of gold hidden away by Escobar.
Caught between two groups looking to find and remove the gold as well as the always present threat of ICE, Cari Mora struggles to keep herself alive and her dreams of a better life within reach. Attracted by her physical and emotional scars, Hans-Peter Schneider, the leader of one of the groups trying to retrieve the gold, also wishes to collect Cari for much darker purposes.
Okay. I read this book in a day. It is absolutely a page turner, BUT, it isn’t, in the end, a very good book. There is a lot going on here, loads of characters get dropped in pretty quickly and become hard to follow. The whole drug money gold plot line is often blurred by Hans-Peter’s organ stealing and super extreme kink niche businesses. Law enforcement officials and other ancillary characters get shoe horned in during the last couple of chapters and the book seems like it will cliff hang and lead to sequels when it suddenly and very abruptly ends. While a muddier ending and sequel set up to this book may have been a little frustrating, I think I would have liked it better if that was where it was headed.
There is just way too much going on here and lots of it reads like an outline for a few novels or a screenplay. The Hans-Peter character is a little unbelievable and instead of being a relatable yet terrifying person like Hannibal, he is too cartoonish. I couldn’t shake the image of Hank from the show Barry every time Hans-Peter was on the scene. The character of Cari Mora was outstanding and so layered but Harris just doesn’t really let her go anywhere. She deserves better.
The portrait Harris starts to paint about Miami and it’s people could have been so much richer and more engaging. Timely issues regarding immigration were also brought up and pretty much shrugged off. So much good material but just a sketch of what it could be. No follow through on much of it.
I would give it 3 stars for keeping me on the edge of my seat for a day, but upon inspection and because I know what Harris is capable of, it’s a two. Bummer.