*Novel provided by the author for a honest review.
With deadlines looming, Riley O'Shea thinks she has realized her worst fear when she discovers that she can no longer write. Unbeknownst to O'Shea, she has a fervent admirer named Jericho Sampson. Sampson is an emerging serial killer who believes he can absorb his victim's inner energy by maximizing their fear and pain before he kills them.
Believing O'Shea will accurately chronicle his ascension; Sampson kidnaps O'Shea and embarks on his violent killing spree. Stuck in a dungeon-like basement, O'Shea realizes she has to write if she wants to live. While the corpses start piling up, O'Shea plays a dangerous game with Sampson convincing him that she is writing while a bored detective transplanted from Chicago to small town Illinois and a lifelong friend of O'Shea's get tangled in the intricate web woven by Sampson. Can O'Shea overcome her writer's block before Sampson finds out or will she become another victim of one of the scariest and most frightening characters ever imagined.
Jericho's Walls by Michael Bret Hood is not your average police procedural. This new spin gives an in depth look into the psyche of a serial killer making this novella a unique and interesting read that will give readers a new perspective on the predators that roam amongst us.
Hood masterfully utilizes his knowledge and insight into the criminal mind to bring to life a thrilling and suspenseful scenario that was both gripping and dramatic. However, I found the world itself to be a bit lacking in dimensionality as the author relies heavily on the characters' emotions to draw the reader in. It was a gamble, but overall, I think it worked well enough, though in future novels I would like to see the settings and crime scenes further explored. For instance, in this novel 'Jericho's walls' refer to the room in which Riley is held prisoner. I would have liked to see a bit more in relation to this room and the feelings of isolation and despair that the character must surely be going through. The atmosphere of this cell is never really captured and I think that's a real shame as the fear and horror this room could have evoked was quite potent.
The characters themselves are nicely developed, but they too at times are a bit short on dimensionality, though some are more highly developed than others. My favorite, oddly enough, had to be Jericho himself. I enjoyed the in depth exploration into what it was that caused him to become such a monster. The first hand knowledge of his childhood abuse by his mother and sisters actually made me pity him a bit despite the despicable creature that he became. The extent of his insanity is painfully obvious through the detailed first person segments and I liked seeing how the fear and agony that he inflicts on others brings him something akin to true joy. It's not often you get to tag along in the mind of a serial killer and I found this to be a very interesting experience. Also, I found the contrast between the killer's mind and Alan's, the detective investigating the murders, a welcome change. Alan is nicely developed with a great sense of duty, loyalty and justice. His need to solve the case using only the flimsiest of leads was endearing and I developed a quick respect for this man's character. Yet, while I loved watching the story unfold through the eyes of these two men, I would have liked to see Riley's character a bit more developed. Her emotions, while honest, failed to really ignite any of my own and I found her to be a tool within the story and not a real player. Her thoughts are only surface deep and I would have loved to get more insight into the thoughts of the victim who is so well educated on the history of other serial killers. I think those insights would have been quite interesting and helped to shed light not only on her as a person, but given another perspective into the twisted mind of Jericho.
Hood has a wonderful knack of keeping the story moving with a great dramatic flair and sense of suspense as well. The shifting points of view helped to keep all the players active and fresh in the reader's mind and serve to give insight into the particular natures and motives of the characters. The shifts also help to reveal the tragedy that Jericho leaves in his wake, though I would have liked to have seen this more fully explored. Also, the ever quickening tempo of the story builds into a wonderful climax that didn't disappoint with lots of nicely written action that had me glued to my Nook until the last page.
While this story was gripping and enjoyable I would have liked to see a lot more development in the crimes and characters. Emotionality while present, wasn't as powerful as I think it could have been. All in all, it felt like a lot was glossed over and I would have greatly enjoyed a bit more of the mechanics. What does that mean? Well, for starters I would have liked to see a bit more 'procedural' in this novella. While we see the clues that Alan follows, I would have liked to see more of the crime scenes and the horror evoked by them. The atmosphere surrounding the case would also have been a great help in making this a truly chilling read. Simple things like that which would have helped flesh out the novel a bit more.
Overall, this was a quick and interesting read that I really enjoyed reading. I really liked this unique spin on the police procedural which gave insight not only into the pursuing detectives but to the villain as well, and really, who doesn't enjoy reading about the psycho of the story? I definitely recommend this novella to anyone who enjoys a good thriller and look I forward to seeing what this author will come up with next!
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars