Saturday, October 12, 2013

{Review} To Probe a Beating Heart by John B. Wren

ISBN #: 978-0988937109
Page Count: 302
Copyright: March 1, 2013
Publisher: John B. Wren; 2nd Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

In the autumn of 1991, a young girl disappears from a Cleveland Heights, Ohio neighborhood. She was last seen talking to a man as the clouds opened and a rain began. The only witness is an elderly woman whose description of the possible kidnapper could fit any number of people. As police, friends and family search the immediate area for Annette, she is taken farther away and becomes one of the predator's early victims.

Over the course of the next several years, along the interstate 90 corridor between Toledo, Ohio, and Albany, New York, a number of young girls disappear without a trace. Jim McLarry, Annette's cousin and a rookie cop with the Cleveland Heights police force, pursues his own investigation of the missing girls in hopes of finding his cousin. As he feeds information to the detectives assigned to the case, McLarry demonstrates his ability as an investigator.

Years earlier, a boy, born and raised in difficult circumstances, determined that he will kill his adoptive mother and sister. Each summer a new victim is another rehearsal for his intended goal. As he plans and executes his annual killings, he leaves virtually no clues. Only little mistakes, the dogged determination of the Cleveland Heights cop and the intervention of Annette's extended family, the Clan, lead to Averell's downfall.

To Probe a Beating Heart is a fictional, but realistic study in the creation of a killer. The monster that Averell has become must be stopped and if the authorities cannot make that happen, the Clan will.

Mandy's Review:

Some serial killers come into existence because of a bad childhood. They're rejected by their family. They're emotionally, and sometimes physically, abused. They're people who tend to hold in their anger promising themselves they'll get back at their tormentors someday. Perhaps they begin hearing a voice or voices in their head telling them what to do. Some begin by torturing small animals becoming satisfied by the control they have over the animal's fear. Over time, they seek larger prey, often basing their choice of prey on their tormentor's characteristics. All of these descriptions match Averell's situation and personality.

Averell was adopted because his parents couldn't have children. They chose him from a children's home in Romania. After the novelty of having a child wore off, Averell was ignored and often left alone. Surprisingly, Averell's mother did become pregnant and had a girl. Averell's sister was treated much better than he was. The treatment he underwent finally manifested itself by turning Averell into a serial killer. One of his victims was a member of the Clan's family.

The Clan is an Irish family. They're known for taking care of problems the law does not have enough evidence to handle. When their little cousin was abducted, the Clan members came out in full force and did not give up until they found the man who took her, Averell.

To Probe a Beating Heart was disturbing and gruesome. I did appreciate that it was able to affect me, to the point that I wondered about the author's own sanity. What I didn't really care for was the writing-style. Within the same chapter, I'd be reading about Averell and then the next paragraph would have a scene and character change with no separation indicating the change. It was a bit mind-jarring. Also, towards the end, when the police first met Averell and were asking him where he was at on a certain date, I didn't find it a very believable scenario. They didn't ask for any information that they could confirm. They just took him at his word. As a potential suspect, I would've thought they would've asked him for the phone number of where he was at, who he spoke with, and the nature of his business with said person. You know, information they could confirm. But they didn't.

Overall, this novel would appeal to many mystery/thriller readers yet, while I did enjoy the majority of the story, I probably won't be reading it again.

*A paperback copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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