The author of The Girls He Adored and Fear Itself, Jonathan Nasaw has been recognized as a master in the genre of serial killer thrillers. In his newest book, Twenty-Seven Bones, he takes his lovable anti-hero, ex-FBI agent E.L. Pender, to the island of St. Luke to help solve the islandís first serial killer mystery. He is up against not just one killer, but a team of them who have a very strange reason for killing.
Husband and wife anthropologists Phil and Emily Epp have not been the same since they spent time with a native culture that believed they could absorb a personís soul by inhaling their dying breath. In a freak accident, Emily is given the tribal leaderís dying breath, which changes her and her husband forever. The two, along with the tribal leaderís youngest son, set out to capture all the dying breaths they can, enabling them to live forever (or so they think). They end up on the island of St. Luke, where they kill islanders by cutting off their right hands. They get away with it for years until a few of their victims wash up and the local police realize they have a serial killer they dub "The Machete Man" in their midst.
When Pender arrives on St. Luke, he is instantly immersed in the culture and becomes friends with Holly Gold, an American woman who has moved to St. Luke to raise her deceased sisterís kids, and C.B. Dawson, another American woman with a shady past. With their help and the help of the island police force, Pender matches wits with the Epps and their bizarre beliefs.
Twenty-Seven Bones succeeds with its interesting plot and detailed, sympathetic characters. The characters of Holly, her kids and Dawson are fleshed out well, making it important to the reader that Pender solve the mystery so they arenít harmed. Pender, a recurring character in Nasawís books, does not get as much background, but readers who are familiar with Nasawís books wonít need it. The place where the novel falters is in its pacing. Successful thrillers keep you reading at a frantic pace, eager for each chapter. This one is easy to put down, and it sometimes feel like a chore to get through the chapters.
If you enjoy Nasawís other books, youíll probably like Twenty-Seven Bones. However, if you havenít read any of his previous novels, youíd be better off starting out with The Girls He Adored so you can get familiar with his characters and see if you like the way he writes before committing to his latest effort.