Ready. Set. Psycho. by John Griffin

Ready. Set. Psycho.

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An energetic potboiler features a sadistic serial killer and a determined team of seasoned detectives.

In this thriller’s prologue, a character named Psycho, aka Justin Graham, riding around with a bound and gagged police detective in his back seat, unceremoniously runs over a pedestrian while making declarations about rules and the unknowable dangers of obedience. From this point on, Canadian sci-fi author Griffin (Darkness and the Radiance of Neamh, 2014, etc.) keeps the adrenaline churning as a cadre of cops attempts to outwit a brutal, clever killer. After Detective Greg Kellogg’s murder at the hands of Psycho, Reginald, a thrill-seeking investigative officer, is quickly swept into solving a recent rash of lucrative heists plaguing Manhattan’s elderly elite. Elsewhere, Detective Solomon Roud has been placed on leave for erratic behavior, emotional instability, and a string of bad luck since his former partner Greg’s murder. Desperate to “wipe that slate clean,” Sol continues covertly working undercover jobs for the thievery ring, hoping to eventually bust it from the inside. The band’s next job is a huge estate heist, and Sol needs several backup men to assist in a sting operation. Reg and ex–Navy man Sham are recruited as key operatives, and all three get to work on apprehending the thieves. Meanwhile, in a case that firmly anchors the novel, Psycho, whose serial killing evolution is filled in through grisly flashbacks, continues his vicious torture/murdering spree, complete with cryptic notes jammed down the victims’ throats. But when a local pathologist discovers a clue pointing to Sol, he enlists the detective’s help in solving the crime as well. The killer slithers closer to Sol and blackmails him in a Saw-like game involving a nail-biting, time-hinged trade-off of a kidnapped girl for a score-settling murder. Fresh leads, a spirited game of cat and mouse, a surprise revelation, and some intuitive, sleuthing spadework keep Griffin’s impressive suspense yarn zipping along. All of his characters, whether benevolent or motivated by deadly intent, are equipped with wisecracking personalities and the ability to grab a reader’s attention throughout the length of an action-packed novel that barely pauses to catch its breath. The dramatic conclusion doesn’t disappoint and satisfyingly leaves the detectives’ doors wide open for future adventures.

With the ferocity and black humor of a Quentin Tarantino film, this in-your-face chiller delivers lethal villains; flawed, dogged investigators; and a bevy of twists and turns.

Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017