The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

Hardcover, 400 pages, Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN13: 9780316089517

The Postcard Killers

by

James Patterson and Liza Marklund

NYPD detective Jack Kanon is on a tour of Europe’s most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren’t what draw him–he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each restaurant through a killer’s eyes.

Kanon’s daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have become victims of the same sadistic killers.

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Gabby Larsen. Every killing is preceded by a postcard to the local newspaper–and Kanon and Larsen think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson’s most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

*Please note: I cannot quote anything from the book. I’d won and received an ARC copy through the contest on the author’s website.

NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon has been all over Europe for almost six months. His on the trail of a serial killer, one that sends postcards and pictures to the newspapers before and after each killing.

But it’s for sure the murders are being committed by a serial killer. Victims are of young couples in love, either boyfriend/girlfriend, engaged, or newlyweds. The victims are drugged, murdered (throats slit), and posed, and polaroid pictures are taken and sent to the same person they previously sent the postcards to. The murders are committed once, in one city, then the killer moves on.

Jacob is on the hunt for what he calls The Postcard Killers, and won’t stop until they’re caught. At every murder, he becomes more and more frustrated, and despair is crashing on him. You see, he’d sent his daughter on vacation to Rome with her fiance, and she was one of the Postcard Killers’s victims. Guilt-ridden, he’s determined to catch them, no matter the cost.

Dessie Larsson, a Swedish reporter, received a postcard and wonders what it’s supposed to mean. But then the polaroid arrives, and she’s dragged into the case, against her wishes. She’s persuaded by the police to write a letter and publish it in the newspaper, meant to capture the killers’ attention. It does, in a gruesome way, and now Dessie feels responsible for the second set of victims, believing that, if she hadn’t written the letter, the killers would have moved on and the victims in Stockholm would still be alive.

Together, Jacob and Dessie comb through the evidence, the postcards, the polaroids. There’s a pattern, but just when it seems obvious, it floats away. One picture in particular haunts Dessie, for the posed victims remind her of something. After talking to her ex-husband, she’s figured out what all the polaroids have in common; the victims are posed to immitate reknown paintings, famous paintings.

When clues fall into place, pictures of the killers are released to the media, and a widespread manhunt ensues, only to have the tables turned on them. The killers give themselves up, acting like a pair of tourists caught in the middle of the whole fiasco. Jacob is sure they are the killers, but there’s not enough evidence. No prints, no DNA, no nothing.

But when they’re released, Jacob loses it. He needs to find evidence it’s them, and decides to investiage their pasts – in Los Angeles. The more people he talks to, the more he’s certain that Sylvia and Malcolm Rudolph, twins, sister and brother, are the killers.

As more clues fall into place, he returns to Dessie, and together the find another clue: a website created about their art group. One page needs a password to access, and no matter what they try, the password is denied. That is, until they hit the right password. What they find, is indescribable.

The killers aren’t just Sylvia and her twin brother, Malcolm, but several other people, all over Europe. All part of the same art group, and art group formed by Sylvia and Malcolm.

Jacob and Dessie are hot on the twins’s trail, through northern Sweden, where Dessie had enlisted the help of her cousin to see if they could find and track the twins. When news of a second car theft reaches them, Dessie passes on the information to her cousin, and the car gets spotted.

The climax of the story is swift and brutal, but the epilogue is very sweet.

**Not your garden-variety killers. Ha! (If you read the book, you’ll catch the pun, LOL!)

I liked Dessie right from the beginning. Even though she was a small-time reporter, she didn’t want to be reknown. That wasn’t for her. She didn’t care if her byline was under the biggest story. She wasn’t in it for the prestige. Her morals and beliefs grounded her, and I liked that about her very much. When the police persuade her to post a letter to the killers, offering them a large sum of money for an interview, she’s viewed in the media as unethical and immoral, and this really disturbs her.

Jacob is on a one-track mind: to find his daugther’s killers, no matter the cost. Severely depressed by guilt, believing that if he hadn’t sent his daughter and her boyfriend/fiance to Rome on vacation, she’d still be alive, he’ll stop at nothing to find and capture her killers. I liked his tenacity, even if I found him to be immoral at times. For him, morality flew out the window the minute he confirmed his dead daughter’s body was his daughter’s. I also loved how the walls he built around himself came crashing down when Dessie came into the picture, and how her face kept coming to mind while he was away from her. I think Dessie was his “saving grace.”

The killers, Malcolm and Sylvia Rudolph… what a pair of psychotics. I think the most disturbing to me was watching them interact with their victims. *shudder* Reading a murder-mystery, you expect gruesome crime scenes, so I was prepared for it. But you don’t really get into the killers minds, you just see them interact with everyone around them, how they act with their victims, how they “put on a show” about being simple art students and tourists, taking in the sights and museums… that was disturbing.

The climax was perfect. And the epilogue was sweet. One thing, though… I’d have liked to see Jacob “say goodbye” to his daughter with Dessie beside him.

Another perfect James Patterson novel. No unneeded details or descriptions, vivid descriptions bring mental pictures to mind that make you shudder, characters that are complicated with simple words, and short chapters make this a quick, but very enjoyable, read. Highly recommended!

Rating: .5

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