Cut to the Bone
An Emily Thompson Mystery by Shane Gericke
Review: Shane Gericke's second Emily Thompson mystery, Cut to the Bone, again features a serial killer who is targeting the western Chicago suburb of Naperville.
Emily and her professional and romantic partner Marty Benedetti are having a spa day when the receptionist is quickly and efficiently murdered, the killer escaping virtually unnoticed. After Emily enters the details of the crime into a national database, including the fact that the victim's nose was inexplicably broken and two barely burned wooden matches were found at the crime scene, she is contacted by other agencies around the country that have had similar crimes in their jurisdictions. They surmise that a serial killer is at work around the country, but don't know how the victims are connected. Meanwhile, Illinois prepares to execute the killer of a pregnant woman and her unborn child in a newly constructed facility built around the electric chair used several decades earlier by the state. Emily concludes the serial killer and the pending execution are somehow related and as a result finds herself a target.
As with Gericke's previous mystery in this series, he is at his best in profiling and documenting the actions of the serial killer. The identity of the killer isn't revealed until the final pages and comes as something of a surprise; Gericke convincingly proffers several red herring candidates during the course of the book, any of which would seem to have motive and opportunity. From this perspective, Cut to the Bone works well as a suspense thriller.
But there are numerous problems with the book that are hard to overlook. Emily Thompson plays at best a minor role here. She's present at the spa murder and is presumably the lead detective in the case but spends most of her time wondering about her relationship with Marty Benedetti. The spa murder is 8th or 9th on the serial killer's list, so it is inexplicable that the connection with the broken noses and two burnt matches wasn't discovered earlier. On the same subject, there is never a credible explanation why the victim's noses were broken in the first place, and the relationship between the matches and the electric chair is truly far-fetched. The inclusion of a conversation between Supreme Court Justices Potter Stewart and William Rehnquist that takes place in 1972 where they discuss a pending case on the death penalty before the court, and share a chuckle over executions in Texas, is particularly odd. And probably most puzzling, in the end how did the serial killer expect to achieve his stated objective?
There are too many problems with Cut to the Bone to recommend it, but those looking for a quick read with an intriguing serial killer will likely enjoy it.
Acknowledgment: Breakthrough Promotions provided an ARC of Cut to the Bone for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Pinnacle (Mass Market Paperback), May 2006
ISBN-13: 9780786018130; ISBN-10: 0786018135
Location(s) referenced in Cut to the Bone: Chicago
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Cut to the Bone by Shane Gericke — An Emily Thompson Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $6.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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