Where I Got It: Review copy
Narrator: Christina Traister
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2012)
Length: 10 hours 5 minutes
Series: Book 1 Sami Rizzo
Meet the serial killer, Simon, who is also a physical therapist. He’s a self-appointed savior of humanity, cleansing people one at a time in his Room of Redemption. After his third victim is found, Detectives Sami Rizzo and Alberto Diaz are assigned the case. The pressure is on as San Diego politicians demand results in the hunt for the killer.
This book started off pretty strong and interesting. The reader knows right from the start who the serial killer is and that also makes us privy to his motivations. His physically dead mother is still giving directions in his head. He truly believes that God and his mother want him to cleanse these women in order for them to be redeemed. However, his cleansing leaves them crucified, a rather brutal death.
Simon isn’t stupid. He’s careful about how he selects his targets, typically choosing women he has no ordinary contact with. He also picks women who have small kids and he scoops them up in a non-threatening way together. Later, he releases the kid at some public place. The bodies keep turning up at religious sites. The inner workings of Simon were twisted, but in a logical sense. Overall, Simon is a very interesting antagonist. I think this book is set perhaps in the 1990s. People are still smoking indoors and Sami is the only female detective. This also means there is limited forensic knowledge and tech. As such, Simon isn’t leaving much evidence on the bodies for the detectives to work with.
Sami Rizzo is a single mother, Angelina being about 2 years old. Angelina’s father, Tommy DiSalvo, walked out on them some time ago. Sami is an intriguing character because she is both obviously feminine but also a detective, working with an all male cast day in and day out. She’s a voluptuous woman and not a twig, which was a nice touch. She lives near her mother Josephine who babysits often even though the two ladies don’t get along.
Al Diaz is another interesting character. Being of Mexican decent, he catches some crap from some of the fellows at work. Sami and he are a good detective pair, being able to both joke around and divide and conquer the work load. Al still has contacts across the border and these come in handy for a side plot involving Sami’s ex-husband.
As you can see, the set up is real good. I was hooked from the start and definitely caught up in the main characters’ lives. I also appreciated that the victims we see alive and in Simon’s hands aren’t all meek. Victim #4, Peggy, fights verbally and physically for her life and then for the safety of her daughter April.
A chance meeting on Thanksgiving Day puts Sami and Simon in the same room. Of course, neither knows who the other is at first. Much later on, Sami suspects she knows who the killer is. And this is where the story becomes a bit cliched. She decides to try to take him down all on her own in order to prove something. She doesn’t tell anyone where she is going or leave a note, just in case. I had to roll my eyes a little at this because it is an overly used plot device. Yes, it gave us drama and, yes, I wanted to see how things would turn out. I was invested in the characters and the book as a whole at this point. I was hoping there would be some unexpected twist at the end, but there wasn’t. Things pretty much followed the boiler plate plot from this point forward.
Overall, it was an entertaining read. Perhaps two-thirds of it had me completely sucked in and trying to guess what would happen next. Even after things got predictable, I still wanted to see it through. The side plot that had Diaz tapping his contacts over the border was a good one, adding some additional mystery to the plot.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost as part of the iReads Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Christina Traister was a great voice for Sami. She’s assertive without being a jerk. I like that she can sound both grateful and exasperated at the same time (this happens quite a bit when Sami is dealing with her mother). Her male voices were believable and distinct. Her pronunciation of Spanish words needs assistance and her Spanish accent could use some improving.
What I Liked: The tension of knowing who the killer is right from the start and watching the police try to figure it out; Sami and Al make a good team; the side plot involving Sami’s ex-husband; Simon’s twisted little version of reality.
What I Disliked: The last third of the book relies on a very cliched, overused plot device.
Book # 1 – Book Description for They Never Die Quietly:
They Never Die Quietly tells the story of homicide Detective Sami Rizzo, who is assigned to head a task force investigating serial killings in San Diego. Simon, the highly intelligent, cunning, and deceptively charming villain, redefines the depths of human evil. He believes God has given him absolute authority to purify his unholy victims through a ritual that ends in a grisly crucifixion. Driven by warped religious beliefs and guided by his dead mother, very much alive in his subconscious, Simon abducts “chosen ones” and holds them captive in a Room of Redemption. There, the victims helplessly await their crucifixion. Detective Rizzo urgently yearns to solve the case and gain the respect of her male colleagues, but her obsession to apprehend the killer on her own clouds her thinking. When Simon outsmarts Rizzo and captures her, determined to make her his next victim, she must employ all her resources—both physical and intellectual—to outwit the villain at his own game.
Buy the book: Amazon
Book # 2 – Book description for Resuscitation:
Two years ago, Detective Sami Rizzo narrowly escaped a brush with death at the hands of a serial killer. After apprehending the killer and bringing him to justice, this life-changing event compels her to resign from the police force. In her heart of hearts, however, she struggles with the decision. But a second serial killer—a well- respected doctor gone astray—uses his charm to seduce his victims and then performs horrific surgical experiments on them. In a final act of depravity, he scatters their mutilated bodies throughout San Diego County. Feeling a sense of duty and obligation, Sami Rizzo appeals to the police chief and mayor, and they reinstate her as a homicide investigator. As the body count grows and the killer’s experiments become more and more brutal, Sami follows one dead-end lead after another, while trying to deal with a sickly mother and a turbulent relationship with her lover. But then the killer makes a crucial mistake: one of his victims survives. Sami does everything to protect the barely alive victim, but the killer has a different plan.
Buy the book: Amazon
Book #3 – Book Description for A Piece of You:
Homicide Detective Sami Rizzo is at it again! She never dreamed “America’s Finest City,” would be tormented by yet another serial killer, but for the third time in the last five years a depraved maniac is stalking the streets of San Diego. Based on her qualifications and prior successes dealing with multiple murders, who else would Captain Davison assign to head the investigation?
Different from Sami’s past experiences, this fanatic is like no other. His methods of killing defy everything profilers think they know about serial killers. As an intense investigation begins and bits and pieces of evidence emerge, no one can understand his motivation. He’s merciful, yet brutal. And just to make things even more confusing, all of his victims are blood-related. Is he settling a vendetta? Did he randomly pick a name out of the phone book and begin a rampage? Or is there a deeper story?
Based on very little evidence and a lot of gut instincts, Detective Rizzo pieces together a complex puzzle and narrows the field of possible suspects. She learns that the killings may connect in some way to powerful people within the judicial system and doesn’t know who to trust. Ultimately, she comes face to face with the killer for a battle of brain and brawn. Can she outwit the shrewd killer, or will she be his next victim?
Buy the book: Amazon
Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor specializing in full-length fiction, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly.
His second book, Resuscitation (Thomas & Mercer 2011), a follow-up to his first novel, hit #1 in Kindle sales in the UK and reached #26 in the USA. He is also the author of I Do Solemnly Swear (Thomas & Mercer 2012) and Hypocrisy. A Piece of You is his fifth novel, the third in the Detective Sami Rizzo series. A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.
Win 1 of 20 print (or gifted Kindle) copies of A Piece of You: A Sami Rizzo Thriller (open to USA & Canada).