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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Review: Fan Mail by P.D. Martin

Title: Fan Mail
Author : P.D. Martin
Publisher: Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 9781405038263
No Pages: 400
Published Date: February 2008
Sub-genre: Thriller

Your words could make someone act.
You must stop writing this filth. It can only bring you pain, believe you me.
Yours Sincerely,
A fan

Sophie Anderson is a profiler with the FBI. She has been working with the behavioural Analysis Unit at Quantico but recently decided that she can be of greater benefit to crime victims if she worked in the field and has applied to be transferred to LA.

Sophie is more than just a highly accomplished profiler, she has an added talent that she prefers to keep hidden from her superiors within the Bureau. She has visions of the crimes she is working on. These visions sometimes put her in the role of the killer, other times as the victim or as an observer. Initially they were a deeply disturbing intrusion into her life, but as they continued, it was apparent that they had a habit of being unerringly accurate. She can’t control them but is beginning to accept them as a part of her and as a potentially vital tool to help her as she works a case.

Before Sophie even has a chance to walk into her office to take up duties in LA she finds herself thrown into a murder case. A crime novelist, one who had visited the FBI at Quantico, has been murdered and the novelists assistant called Sophie. The murder imitates almost precisely the way one of the victims was murdered in the author’s latest novel. Although the murder falls to the Beverly Hills PD to investigate, Sophie is drawn in thanks to having previously met the author before she moved. It’s a delicate position she finds herself in, having to tread carefully to avoid stepping on the toes of the officers involved, who wouldn’t appreciate the FBI muscling in.

As it turns out, the man heading the investigation is Detective Dave Sorrell, a homicide detective who has worked successfully with the FBI in the past and understands the value of using their resources. He’s a man with an abrupt manner which Sophie initially finds a little off-putting but they soon develop an efficient working relationship that gradually becomes quite complementary.

However their excellent teamwork isn’t enough, initially, to draw any great breakthrough in the investigation. And when a second crime author is murdered, also in the same manner as laid out in their novel, the stakes are raised enormously. Frustratingly for Sophie, the visions she hopes for to help in the investigation are either not forthcoming or apparently irrelevant to the case. It feels as though things are spiralling dangerously out of control when the third author is reported missing.

Fan Mail is more than the murder mystery it first looks as though it’s going to be. The solid forensic evidence gathering and criminal profiling put in by Sophie and Sorrell throws up some related cases and it looks as though it’s going to become a serial killer case, but their investigation always seems drawn back to the original murder.

Integral to the appeal of the story is the development of the working relationship between Sophie and Sorrell. It looks as though it has the potential to be the kind of friendship that will become a defining feature of the series.

Equally, the paranormal abilities of Sophie are beginning to take on more importance in the story. It’s a feature of the Sophie Anderson books that author P.D. Martin has nurtured carefully, refusing to rush the advancement of her abilities. It’s with a significant sense of careful development that we are experiencing her growth as she does.

It appears that P.D. Martin has developed a series within a series with an ongoing subplot that runs beneath the main story that is carried over from The Murderer’s Club and promises more to come in future books. It’s like you’re getting a 2 for 1 deal with two solid stories providing a memorable, multi-faceted thriller.

A word of warning on that last point though for anyone who hasn’t yet read The Murderer’s Club. Vital information about that book is revealed in the course of Fan Mail and it would be recommended that you go back and read the earlier book, if only to gain a clear understanding about what takes place here.

Fan Mail continues a strong series that has seamlessly blended the science of criminal profiling with Sophie’s paranormal abilities in a thriller that offers a great deal to the reader.

1 comment:

Kerrie said...

My feeling too is that people need to read them in order. FAN MAIL is one of the best books I have read in 2008. My review is at