The Doll Maker
August 21, 2014
With over 800,000 novels sold in the UK alone, and with those having been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide, there can be little doubt that Richard Montanari is a class act. However, his latest work – The Doll Maker – underlines the fact that he is more than capable of twisting the intrigue up to infinitesimal levels without ever once stepping over the line into the incredible.
The discovery of a strangled girl, posed on a freshly painted park bench, leads to the further discovery of an invitation to a tea dance one week hence. A second body is discovered and another invitation, this one with a shorter time gap, and Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne are aware that they are now up against a killer with a schedule he is desperate to keep to.
Byrne, Balzano, Josh Botranger et al. are such deftly created protagonists that as each novel passes, another layer of their persona is stripped away so we, as readers, get to bathe in their pros and cons as though they are – indeed – old friends, which is just the way Montanari wants us to feel.
Montanari’s antagonists are just as beautifully drawn, yet with such a subtle edge of darkness so that they are, too, in some way, welcoming and warm and just a little “let’s not sit too close to these people, dear” odd that they never really appear overtly threatening though, obviously, they are.
With as good a sense of place as any of Montanari’s previous work – that is to say meticulously researched, never cumbersome and delightfully delivered – a pace that could keep up with the beating heart of new a father in the delivery suite and a plot that has more twists than a cat’s cradle, The Doll Maker is surely set to bring Richard Montanari more deserved acclaim from peers and readers alike.