I'd heard about this book through different sources and through the reviews on Amazon. I'd really like to say that I liked this book. I really would. After all, it has this wonderful Cinderella story behind it, where the book had been published, dropped out of notice and then got picked up by the Amazon Encore program to publish more books. It's just unfortunate that I've yet to read a book from the Encore program that wasn't mediocre for the most part.
"They Never Die Quietly" is the literary baby of author D.M. Annechino, and looks to be his first foray into publishing. The book is set in San Diego, where a cruel serial killer has been targeting a certain type of victim. He only chooses mothers and their children, stalking them to learn their daily habits, then kidnapping them and subjecting them to days of mental torture as they await their fate. Only the children survive, having been spared by the murderer in order to inform the police about their mothers' gruesome fate: death by crucifixion.
Detective Sami Rizzo is in charge of the investigation, but she also has her own problems to deal with. Her ex-husband is attempting to manipulate her out of more money. She doesn't spend nearly enough time with her daughter or her mother. And she's running out of time to catch this killer before she is forcibly taken off of the case.
I've yet to really decide whether I liked this book or not. I finished it yesterday and I'm still waffling over my decision. For a first attempt, this is a decent one. It's just that the book just seems to be sort of well, mediocre in several ways.
Annechino makes the bold choice of revealing his serial killer from the very start of the book as Simon, the physical therapist hiding in plain sight. I can applaud this to a certain degree, as this isn't entirely the norm for thriller books, as they so often choose to hide the killer's identity so they can draw out the "is he or isn't he" suspense. This works to a degree, since we know who the killer is and we can watch his interactions with Sami with a bit of sadistic glee.
Where the book falls short is that there's too many lagging scenes in this book. I didn't really enjoy the scenes between Sami and her husband, as I didn't feel like they really brought anything to the novel. It did serve a purpose of adding extra stress to Sami's life as well as explaining the motive behind some of her actions, but the scenes just felt drawn out and a little dull. I also felt like the cat and mouse between Sami and Simon could have used a little more work. She seems to suspect Simon without any real reason to believe that he's the killer. The deduction just felt a little forced and unrealistic, as did some of their interactions.
Another thing I couldn't really believe was how idiotic Sami was at times. She suspects Simon as the killer, yet she's willing to go off alone with him... without telling anyone where she is going or leaving any clues as to what she suspects. I'm willing to believe that part of it is stress and the semi-dated idea that as a woman she has to prove herself to her male co-workers, but part of me can't help but think that she should have known better. There just wasn't enough buildup to make me believe that she was stressed out enough & prideful enough to make such a foolhardy choice.
Most of the issues that I personally had with the book just seemed to be more caused by pacing than anything else. I can't help but feel that if there'd been a bit more time spent on developing the characters more and if the part with the ex-husband had been saved for the sequel (too much in too short of a time), then perhaps the book could have been a little better for me.
Now I don't want people to think that I hated this book. Not so. I did enjoy this enough to where I'll be looking for the sequel's release as well as any other books Annechino might write. He has a lot of promise as an author- right now he's just green. I have faith that as he continues to write and get published, he'll work out the kinks in his writing style. Even some of the more established writers made goofs with their first novels.
Annechino has a lot of promise as an author, but I hope he won't get offended when I say that I hope he doesn't try to make this into a long series. I know that there is a sequel planned and I do look forward to reading it, but I don't know that I'm really all that interested in reading more about Sami. She just doesn't have the charm needed for one of the longer series.