Riding the wave of publicity generated by his true crime thriller the â€œSpecialistâ€ writer Teague Kendall is in Tasmania. The small island off the coast of Australia was home to the serial killer who layed a trail of death from Tasmania to a cave system close to Kendallâ€™s home on Vancover Island, Canada. Luckily, both Kendall and his girlfriend, Kristen Knelsen escaped his evil clutches and everyone believes the killer who liked to feast on his victims is dead.
While Teague and Kristen are trying to date, many things are interfering with any possible relationship. She has made the trip with him and while he is at a gundog trial, she is deep underground in a nearby cave system. Both were traumatized by the events and both are dealing with it in very different ways. Their relationship has huge issues and not just because Teague will never step foot in a cave again despite Kristenâ€™s love of caving.
Neither knows that Dr. Ralph Stafford, the man now known as the â€œSpecialistâ€ is very much alive and well. Reconstructive surgery has altered his face, but nothing changed his voice. He has made major plans now that the both have come to his home of Tasmania. It is a toss up whether he likes the chase and capture more than the killing and eating. Recent events have caused a big appetite and he has plenty to savor and the time to do it as his various victims stumble into his trap.
Often the second book in a series does not meet the standards of the first. That is not true here in a tale that avoids the main hallmarks of the first book: coincidence and the gross out factor. Coincidence does not drive this book unlike the first one. Instead, believability rules the day with events happening for all characters in a logical progression and without coincidence. The gross out factor is limited in this book while it often seemed to exist in the first book just to make one ill while reading. This time most of the descriptive parts relating to a butchered human body are found primarily in the last forty pages or so though there is one scene earlier in the book that will bother some readers. As with the first book it is not recommended to read while eating. Based on the condition of many library books I get eating while reading seems to be a favorite pastime of many book borrowers.
This novel works more on the psychological aspects of who people are and why they do what they do. In so doing, the major and most of the minor questions involving the first book and the time preceding this novel are answered. This is done while taking readers through multiple storylines converging on a series of dark events in theÂ countryside of Tasmania. An exotic locale, dialogue that flows well and is natural, and a host of returning characters in a breakneck mystery/thriller make this a good book worth reading.
Dining with Devils: A Tasmanian Thriller
Five Star Mysteries (Gale/Cengage)
E-Book review copy provided by the author in exchange for my objective review.
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Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2009