Saturday, February 27, 2010

Body Count

Body Count by P.D. Martin

To catch a killer, you need to think like one.

FBI Agent Sophie Anderson has been trained to crawl into the sick minds of serial killers, to understand their depraved impulses and vile cravings—to catch them before the body count rises.

Newly relocated from Australia, Sophie is starting to feel comfortable at Quantico. She is quickly becoming the FBI’s star profiler and she has a good friend in Agent Samantha Wright—and there is something more than friendship simmering with Agent Josh Marco.

The only problem is the nightmares.

But these gruesome images are more than dreams. They are intense psychic visions, like those she experienced as a child when her brother was abducted.

When grisly details match recent crime scene photos, she confides in Sam and her visions lead to several breakthroughs in the case. But when Sam is abducted, Sophie must finally trust her visions and learn to use them. She might not have been able to save her brother, but perhaps she can save Sam—and herself.
--Body Count by P.D. Martin, Copyright ©2005 by P.D. Martin, published by MIRA Books

My Review:

If you’re at all like me, even a little, teeny tiny bit, you like to occasionally step outside your comfort zone and try out a new author. If you haven’t, then trust me, it’s worth the risk. You’ll find a few sinkers—novels that make you marvel at the waste of paper—but if you persist and keep looking, you’ll find a few gems.

Alan Baxter is one of them (word of warning—if you don’t like dark horror fantasy, go ahead and give him a pass, but trust me, he’s awesome!), and through his web site, I found out about P.D. Martin.

Alan posted a PDF copy of Genre Flash 4, a magazine highlighting “the Best Australian Genre Fiction and True Crime” novels. P.D. Martin’s books were listed, including a bit about the fifth novel in her Sophie Anderson series, Kiss of Death. I was intrigued by the idea of an FBI profiler from Australia who’s trying to get control over her psychic abilities so she can use it to solve cases, and with a few mouse clicks and the tapping of a few keys, found out that Ms. Martin’s first book, Body Count was available at my local library. I won’t lie and say I rushed to check it out, but it did go to #1 on my list.

While Body Count follows a familiar path of serial-killer-leaving-hidden-clues-that-only-the-hero/heroine-manages-to-find and seeking-revenge-by-setting-up-the-good-guy-to-take-the-fall path, Ms. Martin takes the interesting route by making the heroine a transplanted Australian with psychic abilities that she’s only just beginning to realize and try to use to solve the case. She also does a good job of explaining some of the ins and outs of what it takes to be an FBI profiler, and even explains some acronyms that we, as mystery readers and TV watchers, may know, but may not fully understand.

As a first novel, it’s pretty good, but not great. My only real complaint is that Ms. Martin goes a little heavy on the dialogue between characters, conversations that I felt could have been shortened or the information delivered to the reader in a different way. There's a classic bit of instruction all writers are familiar with: "show don't tell." One way to show without telling is to put the information in a conversation. I feel like Ms. Martin jumped on that idea and used it to the point it was almost overused. I say "almost" because after a while, though it bothered me, I got used to it and accepted it as the writer's voice.

That being said, she’s followed Body Count up with four more novels, so I can only assume her writing’s gotten better. That’s not meant as a slam…I’ve noticed this with other novelists. Dean Koontz’s first half dozen or so novels are pretty bland (in my opinion) compared to the novels he put out in the 80’s and 90’s. Same with Nora Roberts—anyone who compares her 80's Silhouette novels to her 90’s and 00’s trilogies can see how much she’s grown as a writer. Since P.D. Martin continues to be published, it is my fervent hope and belief that her subsequent novels are better than her first.

Unfortunately, Body Count is the only P.D. Martin title available at my library, so I’m going to have to scour my sources to see if I can track down copies of her other novels and find out if my assumption is correct. Wish me luck!

(Yeah, yeah, I know, I can get them at Amazon. Sometimes I just like to hunt for them, you know? I don’t care for hunting animals, so I hunt for books.)

I give this story THREE STARS and hope to give her additional books more.

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