Following the discovery of her protege's mutilated corpse, SFPD Detective Kate Barnes vows to capture the infamous serial killer known as The Tower Torturer. Famous for revisiting history's darkest forms of cruelty on his victims, the sick psychopath has emerged from the shadows after years of silence. As young women close to Kate disappear, the killer taunts the detective, torturing his victims in various and unspeakable ways before displaying their corpses in macabre public tableaus.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, you have to know that there are some very tough scenes to read in this book. The good news is that it's not every other page. I don't like to give away much in the books I review. But in this case I want to tell you that there could have been more instances of graphic descriptions of torture than were actually in the book. It's there, but it's not everywhere.
Now let's turn to the good stuff. Here are the features of the book that I particularly liked:
1. There were a ton of surprises. That's always a good thing when you're reading a mystery, wouldn't you agree?
2. The surprises led to a lot of head-shaking. I guess that's another form of surprise, right?
3. I found myself trying to guess who the serial killer was, and then disagreeing with the one the author first exposed.
4. The suspense was a killer (sorry about that); especially when a chapter started with a young girl that we didn't know about yet.
5. The book takes place in the Bay Area, where I have lived all my (very long) life. But I still learned some things I didn't know. I learned the history of Hunters Point. I also learned that there are no cemeteries in San Francisco. I think that's kind of a trippy.
6. This is very well-written.
There were also a couple of funny things that happened while I was reading Dark Associations:
1. As I was reading a torture scene, I happened to see a guy walking down the street wearing a T-shirt that said "Super Villains."
2. I was sitting in a public place, reading the book, and a vacuum cleaner went on. I jumped somewhere between 3 feet and 1/4 mile.
3. And I just have to point out that at one point, the author talks about "the 101." I don't think I need to remind you that native Northern Californians do NOT say "the" before its freeways. No harm done, though.
I liked Dark Associations a lot. If you can get past a few of the serial killer-in-action scenes, the rest flows in a very smooth, interesting, and suspenseful way. Have you read Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell series? If you have, and if you liked it, then by all means pick up DA. I'm not only anxious to meet Marie in January. But I'm also definitely looking forward to Book 2.