“The Scavenger’s Daughter” – by Mike McIntyre

The Scavenger's Daughter CoverA self-appointed inquisitor is exacting a grisly revenge against the San Diego elite using medieval instruments of torture. Such is the premise of The Scavenger’s Daughter by Mike McIntyre.

I am not a thriller afficionado, but I do have an idea on what I think a thriller should be: the language should be relatively simple (dense phrasing can slow things down), the pace needs to be break-neck (or at least needs to become faster as it progresses), the novel needs to quickly become ‘unputdownable’.

So do I assess this novel as fitting these three criteria? Absolutely! I devoured The Scavenger’s Daughter and was left at the end feeling like I’d just watched a thriller at the cinema. For an author of this genre I’m guessing this is pretty high praise.

This novel does not break new ground and the plot is not highly original, but playing it safe has its advantages; why fix what ain’t broke? The central character, previously acclaimed, now a bit down on his luck is trying to establish himself again as the investigative reporter du jour. Some seemingly unrelated stories put him on the trail of a sick serial killer. Happy circumstance gifts our hero with contacts in the FBI and forensics – both giving him a helping hand along the way which is quite convenient from a plot point of view. An assistant district attorney ex-girlfriend provides the extra depth and some scattered love scenes (tastefully written).

The pacing was very well done. I was hitting the page turn button rapidly as the novel progressed and the shorter chapters only helped convince me to read “just one more chapter”. This is exactly what you need in book of this genre so I would judge the author to have been very successful in this area.

In a thriller, when the tension is at its peak and the hero needs that one piece of the puzzle to put everything into place, we discover our final revelation – that moment when we can race to the resolution of the story. The Scavenger’s Daughter had a number of revelations and pre-requisite false turns and crises that jeopardise the redemption of the main character. Some profiling from an FBI friend gave a somewhat over-accurate laundry list of serial killer characteristics to match suspects which I thought was a bit contrived, but the final piece of the puzzle was even more so and rather unlikely. It was the square peg hammered into the round hole to push the story to resolution in my mind and probably my main gripe in the novel.

Given that the serial killer dispatches his victims with medieval torture instruments, one might expect some rather gruesome depictions of torture within the novel. Maybe I have a steel stomach, but I felt that the author was admirably restrained. General descriptions of the use of such instruments were furnished and would still allow the reader some uncomfortable visuals, but the narrative itself didn’t become that blend of pornography and gore prevalent in some cult horror movies produced in the last few years.

However, there was some license used in the depiction of at least one of the torture devices, the scavenger’s daughter after which the novel was named. As I’d never heard of this device, I did some research of my own as I was curious how it achieved the effect described in the book. After some reading, I felt that the author had produced an amalgam of two different versions of the instrument used centuries ago. One version locked limbs and neck together but would not have had the rapid or acute effect described in the book and the other did not need to lock wrists, legs or neck into place to have the effect that was clearly being described within the book. It’s a very small thing, but I’m not sure why the author danced with authenticity when it should have been just as easy to have used historical detail accurately.

McIntyre does not blaze new trails and frankly does not need to with The Scavenger’s Daughter. It has that thriller movie feel that authors of this genre should covet, it sticks to a successful formula of character, pace and plot and it left me satisfied. I would definitely recommend this book to thriller lovers if you don’t mind covering similar ground while you’re enjoying the ride.

Rating: 4/5

Price at the time of review: $2.99 US

Available: Amazon, Smashwords, Sony, Diesel

Author site: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619640.Mike_McIntyre
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10182536-the-scavenger-s-daughter

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