Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon

The Tunnels by
A Kelly Jones Mystery

Mira (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2446-X (077832446X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2446-1 (9780778324461)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): An old, abandoned tunnel system beneath the prestigious New England college becomes the gruesome stalking ground of a serial killer ...

The crime scenes are both grim and otherworldly. The bodies of two female students are found mutilated and oddly positioned in the dark labyrinth beneath the school—haunting symbols painted on the walls above them.

In her decade tracking serial killers, FBI special agent Kelly Jones has seen some of the worst humanity can inflict. Yet the tragedy unfolding at her alma mater chills her to the bone. Evidence suggests that the connection between the victims—daughters of powerful men—and the cryptic message behind the killings is rooted in a dark, ancient ritual. As the body count rises, so do the stakes. The killer is taunting Kelly, daring her to follow him down a dangerous path from which only one can emerge.

Review: Michelle Gagnon introduces FBI special agent Kelly Jones in The Tunnels, a murder mystery set at a college in New England.

Kelly is back on familiar turf here: she is an alumnus of the college and is aware of, but not particularly familiar with, the series of tunnels that snake beneath the campus. These tunnels are the scenes of two horrific crimes: two female students have been hung in front of symbols painted on the tunnel walls and their blood drained from them. Together with her FBI partner Roger Morrow, Kelly needs to decipher the meaning behind what appear to be ritualistic killings before another murder takes place.

Gagnon has created an intelligent, confident character in Kelly Jones who grows more complex and, not coincidentally, more interesting as the story progresses. The members of her investigative team are also well drawn, particularly the character of Jake Riley who works for the father of one of the dead girls. Kelly and Jake clearly have the potential for a romantic relationship in the future, but fortunately Gagnon doesn't complicate her book by introducing one here.

Where The Tunnels tends to fail is in the development of the plot. Almost by definition, serial killers have a sense of purpose and are methodical in their choice of victim, yet it's rather disappointing to discover that neither is especially true in this case. The identity of the murderer is fairly obvious early, but the reasoning behind the crimes when revealed at the end seems particularly strained. And Gagnon should have come up with a better way for Kelly to solve the crimes than to put her in a "you're going to kill me anyway so you might as well tell me everything" scenario; she's smarter than that and deserves a better ending.

A relatively weak plot aside, readers are likely to embrace Kelly Jones in The Tunnels and look forward to her next case.

Special thanks to Michelle Gagnon for providing an ARC of The Tunnels for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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