Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Screaming Room by Thomas O'Callaghan

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Screaming Room by Thomas O'Callaghan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Screaming Room by Thomas O'Callaghan

The Screaming Room by
A John Driscoll Mystery

Pinnacle (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7860-1812-7 (0786018127)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7860-1812-3 (9780786018123)
Publication Date: May 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): John Driscoll has laid the ghosts of his past to rest. He's ready to start over—both personally and as a New York City homicide detective. But it seems that a serial killer has other plans for Driscoll.

The victims' bodies are found, brutally mutilated and carefully arranged. Someone has displayed the corpses for the world to see-on a Ferris wheel, in a dinosaur dinorama, on a bridge-grotesque visions to all except for the depraved killer, who considers them masterpieces. These blood rituals spell out a message to Driscoll. And they are just the beginning ...

Driscoll's investigation will lead him down the darkest of journeys, toward an evil beyond his worst nightmares. In a hellish landscape conceived by the all-too-clever mind of a twisted schemer, Driscoll must play a killer's deadly game. It's up to him to save his city-or die trying.

Review: The Screaming Room is Thomas O'Callaghan's second mystery to feature NYPD homicide detective John Driscoll.

A serial killer seems to be indiscriminately murdering men and women, scalping them, and artfully arranging the bodies in and around New York City. The victims' only connection to each other seems to be they were all tourists, visitors to the city. NYPD homicide detective John Driscoll, assigned to the case, doggedly pursues what few clues they have but gets drawn into a political battle when one of the victims turns out to be the daughter of a powerful west coast family who not only want justice but revenge.

The Screaming Room is, for the most part, a police procedural since the killer (actually, killers, a pair of rare genetically identical male and female twins) is identified in the opening chapters of the book. Driscoll employs his resources effectively, quickly determining that there are two killers, twins in their mid-teens, who are independently but in concert killing people in and around the city that they met over the internet. Following him track them down is, in and of itself, rather interesting.

The primary problem here is that though the pacing of the narrative is rapid, the writing is uninspired, failing to generate any genuine suspense. There are more than a few instances where the plot strains credulity. In addition, the novelty of the twins' situation and how they relate to each other quickly wears thin. While the twins' motivation for the murders is predictable and their choice of who to kill is somewhat surprising, there is ultimately no sympathy for either the twins or their victims (other than the obvious fact that they were murdered). The subplot involving the wealthy father of one of the victims, no doubt intended to add an element of conflict and apprehension, completely falls flat.

Driscoll and his team, especially the resourceful Cedric Thomlinson and the enigmatic Margaret Aligante, make for a compelling investigative unit; they deserve a better story than the one in The Screaming Room.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing a copy of The Screaming Room for this review.

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

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