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Jonathan Nasaw - 27 Bones
I came across Jonathan Nasaw about six years ago when I read his first E L Pender novel, 'The Girls He Adored'. I couldn't put it down and when I heard that a second Pender novel, ' Fear Itself' was published, I went out and purchased that as well. I now have the third book, '27 Bones', which I have just finished, and the fourth Pender book 'When She Was Bad', that I will be reading in the near future.
I would recommend Nasaw's E L Pender books to anyone who likes Serial killer chasing cop thrillers, such as Alex Cross or Lincoln Rhyme.
Pender is an overweight, middle aged F.B.I agent with a dry sense of humour and a penchant for catching bad guys or to put it more succinctly, psychotic or sociopathic maniacs.
27 Bones - The novel
Pender has retired and is enjoying a little relaxation when he is called by a friend who happens to be the chief of police on the island of St Luke in the Caribbean. With the offer of sea, sun and sand on a tropical island, Pender sees a chance to break out of his rut and a way to lay off the bottle for a while; he may even be able to walk or swim off some of that extra baggage he has gained in the gut area.
As always with Pender, nothing is quite as it seems and his friend Julian Coffee, the said chief of police from St Luke, did say that he would want Pender to take a look at something. In return for his services for a few weeks, Pender would have an all-expenses paid holiday in the Caribbean.
A serial killer is loose on the island. St Luke police have dubbed him 'The Machete Man', but have not yet released it to the press for fear of disrupting the islands up and coming seasonal trade which booms in the main summer months. The killer is chopping of the right hand of his victims, of which there are three so far, and leaving them to bleed out before dumping them.
Lewis Apgard is a business man and an important figure on St Luke but his life changes when his wife becomes a victim of the Machete Man.
Holly Gold has a new life on St Luke as the local masseur and legal guardian of her sister's two children, a young six year old girl and her older brother who is missing both his arms. Holly is struggling to make ends meet and takes it personally that she can't afford the prosthetic limbs that would make young Marley's life a lot easier.
Doctors Phil and Emily Epps are experienced anthropologists and archaeologists and will go out of their way to find something new or should I say old in the remote places of the world; the older the better. Emily is obsessed with tribal rituals and stories of spirits and the essence of the soul and will go to great lengths to sate her curiosity and her growing need to feel part of that strange and mysterious world.
Who knows more than they are letting on about the killings, who will stoop to disgusting lows to protect what they know and who is the Machete Man?
It will be up to retired F.B.I agent Pender, honorary member of the St Luke Police force, to find out.
Jonathan Nasaw is the author of the best-selling E L Pender books.
He will be sixty-four years of age this year and has no illusions about how lucky he is to be a writer.
He has held down many jobs over the years that a lot of us could relate to and never planned on being a writer although it had always interested him. He wrote two books which weren't successful commercially and then in 2001 he had his first E.L Pender novel, 'The Girls He Adored', published. This book was a success and prompted Nasaw to write full time. The Girls He Adored was followed by other Pender books, namely: 'Fear Itself', '27 Bones', which I have reviewed here, 'When She was Bad', which is the follow up to the first Pender novel and the latest Pender book, 'The Boys From Santa Cruz', released in 2010, which has Pender tackling his most diabolical foe to date.
Nasaw intends to continue the Pender series and I know I and many of his fans hope that he does.
I really enjoyed this book, even though my favourite is still The Girls He Adored. I can't wait to read the follow up to the first book, When She Was Bad, and will review that too when I have finished it.
27 Bones is a creepy book and written in the Nasaw style. His books are full of great description and narrative prose but also very easy to read. The words fall off the pages into your head in a manner that puts him into the ranks of James Patterson and Harlen Coben.
He manages to give us blood thirsty detail without being over-gory or simply trying to shock. The killers in Nasaw's books are all the more creepy because they could be anyone around us at any given time. He does have that knack for making your skin crawl, which is quite rare these days without choosing to fill the pages with blood, splatter and more blood. Don't get me wrong here, there are some pretty graphic scenes in Nasaw's books, but they are all relevant.
In Pender he has created a great character. A dishevelled F.B.I agent, who is overweight, drinks too much and is dumb and unlucky in love. We can all relate to Pender in one sense or another and he has that likeability factor. For all his foibles, he is a loveable guy and one that you root for. Pender is up there with Alex Cross, Lincoln Rhyme, Pendergast and many of the other great fictional detectives and I for one hope we see many more books that feature him.
I haven't gone into any detail about the outcome of the book as I wouldn't want to spoil it for any of you but it is a great read. I originally started it back in England five years ago and then moving to another country got in the way. I then tried a second time and something else came up. So this was third time lucky and I'm glad to say that this time I got there and it was worth the wait.
27 Bones by Jonathan Nasaw.
Subject: Fiction. Thriller. Mystery & Detective.
Paperback published in 2004. By Simon & Shuster.
My copy by Pocket Books in 2005.
Can be picked up for pennies from most online book sellers.
27 Bones is a spine chilling thriller by Jonathan Nasaw, author of Fear Itself.
This is the third book in the series and again features FBI Agent Pender.
Up until now I have never come across this author, but it was recommended to me by Amazon.co.uk as I've previously purchased other Horror/Thriller books from them. The plot that was given was so intriguing that I just had to buy it!
This story is based in the Caribbean where we immediately come across the Epps, a husband and wife team of Anthropologists (Bone studiers). They are attending a deathbed ritual where the lucky heir who is closest to the bed at the time, will suck the dying breath in, and gain the persons immortal soul and eternal youth! Emily Epp ends up inhaling the dying breath when a fight breaks out between the dying man's sons, and as one brother delivers the fatal blow to the other, he staggers forward and breaths into her mouth.
The Epps then go on to killing others for their souls with the belief of retaining eternal youth.
Bennie, the surviving brother joins them on their killing spree as he wants his father's soul and chops off the right hand off the victims before they die as he will need these to restore his family's wealth on the other side!! As you may or may not know, the hand contains 27 bones, hence the title!
Agent Pender is brought in on the case to catch the Machete Man. This isn't an easy case to solve, but will Pender be able to work out who the killers are before he too becomes a victim?
When reading horror/thriller books in the past, I have always enjoyed trying to fathom out who the killer/s are all by myself. With this book like I said at the start, the reader is fully aware of who the culprits are. After reading who were behind these gruesome murders, I wondered quite how the story was going to unfold from there and whether or not it would ruin the enjoyment and suspense for me. In this case I'm pleased to say I found the story to be equally as compelling as other books in its field.
This book throws you right in at the deep end, into the sick and sexually explicit lives of the killers. Although you know who committed these gruesome crimes, you gradually get to find out why and how they have been able to get away with it for so long. Fans of Silence of The Lambs may wish to note that the story is very similar in style to it, as it delves into the equally sick and morbid world of sociopaths and their multiple personalities.
The story is split up into very short chapters taking us back and forth between the characters and how their lives intertwine, but without becoming too confusing.
Even though there are numerous characters contained in this story, you never feel that theres too many. Nasaw handled this perfectly without making any of the characters one dimensional. Instead youll find each of the characters very engaging and explored in depth, so you always feel that theyre there for a reason and not just for the sake of.
I found this book very hard to put down as each chapter contains so much gripping tension thatll youll find yourself eager to reach the next.
I must warn you though that this book isnt for the faint hearted, as it contains scenes of a sexually graphic and violent nature. I wouldnt say there was a large amount of this in the book, but at times it was very difficult to read how some of the victims met their end.
I never felt that they were written for the sake of shocking unnecessarily, but were there to complete the story, and to gain a better understanding of the central characters.
The theme of this book I believe is that people aren't always as they seem. On the outside the Epps appear to be just your everyday run of the mill couple to the people around them, but when they're behind closed doors it's a very different story.
The author during the course of the book really drummed home this theme and made me think that it's always wise to be slightly on your guard as you don't really know anyone inside and out.
I have never really been one for sitting down to reading a book as I don't settle very easily. This book however kept me firmly in my chair, and I read it in one afternoon. The story for me was just so compelling if not chilling at times, but was written in such away that made everything and everyone in it so engaging and believable that I had to know what would become of the characters. To break things up a little the story does contain a romance between two of the characters.
This is written beautifully, but is kept to a minimum so as not to detract from the main plot.
To summarize, this book is a very well written and inventive story that will appeal to fans of Lisa Gardner and Martina Cole. It has a variety of main characters that are all equally engaging and believable and keeps you guessing right up until the very end, as to the fate of the Epps and Bennie as well as the fates of some of the other characters.
Can be purchased at Amazon for £5.59
Paperback published in 2004 by BCA, and contains 360 pages.
Other books by Jonathan Nasaw are Fear Itself and The girls he adored.
The third serial killer thriller, also featuring FBI Agent Pender, from the author of Fear Itself.