Friday, 28 October 2011

Prior Sins by D J Gross

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Another brilliant novel by Deborah Gross.  Her first – Stolen Justice – had me gripped, and this one was equally riveting.

Criminal psychologist, Hadrian, assists the Thames Valley Police in Oxford, UK in hunting down sadistic killers. Repaying a favour to a long-standing colleague, he swaps teaching positions with him to take up a post in Ann Arbor, Michigan, US, where he predicts that lecturing at the university there will be a quiet, rather more mundane job and anticipates he will have to supplement his police-assisting duties with a new hobby. At the same university is pretty Classics professor, Sarah – a lecturer favoured and much loved by her students.  Quiet and insular, she is haunted by dreams of blood and sinister words from her now dead mother.

It's not long before Hadrian's sabbatical starts to mirror his Oxford life, when a serial rapist starts targeting the university attendees.  Hadrian, Sarah and a killer obsessed by the (mythical) Labors of Hercules are brought together at a thriller, edge-of-your-seat pace, as clever Hadrian pieces the puzzle together.

The mythological elements in this story were fascinating, very well recounted and interwoven into the story seamlessly and enjoyably.  I think I can say I learned a little about Greek and Roman mythology – only a little, but memorably! Deborah's knowledge and/or research were impeccable.  Along with her skilful, very readable style, this book was a compelling but effortless race to the end.

Deborah neatly incorporates a story sidekick – the events responsible for Sarah's nightmares are beyond traumatic and Hadrian's innate curiosity and psychological background qualify him to help her.  Not only that, the two are, of course, hopelessly attracted to each other.  Just the right amount of emphasis is put onto their developing relationship; the scales of the romantic elements and the murder mystery are perfectly balanced.

There were some avoidable typos/punctuation errors in this book and the portrayal of Hadrian as an Englishman, was slightly flawed, but I am a staunch and avid fan of this author and eagerly await her next novel.


This review was originally written for The Romance Reviews
http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=3584

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