The Thief of All Light by Bernard Schaffer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m really torn on this book. Really torn.
First the good stuff. I enjoyed the gritty, dark tone throughout the book. There were tiny bits of humor here and there but, for the most part, it was dark like you’d expect a book about serial killers to be. I also liked the author’s voice and writing style. There were some more technical things that held me up but I’ll get to that next.
The not-so-good stuff got to me more and more as the book went on. One of my big pet-peeves is head hopping. And this book has it in spades. Putting that out there and moving on… I think my biggest problem with this book, though, is Carrie Santero. Her personality didn’t seem consistent. She was sometimes portrayed as very naive and at others a tough woman who’s been around the block a few times. Her knowledge and experience as a cop feels much more like a brand-new rookie but she’s been on the force for four years. And she seems totally unaware of some concepts and common sense things that I would think anyone would know. Just one example is her having to be told that real police don’t have the same types of resources/technologies as TV shows. I wouldn’t think someone who’s been a police officer for four years would need to be told that. One more quick thing – Carrie didn’t feel genuinely female to me. And her interactions with her best friend didn’t feel genuine either. I know this book was written by a man but I would have been able to tell even if I went into it blindly. That’s important to me. I think I would have liked her better had she been a young male cop.
There were plot issues that didn’t really feel right either, like a homeless ex-cop/ex-felon who works this case for free to assuage his guilty feelings. And he’s working it with the rookie/not-rookie who has a strong family-like bond with two of the latest victims who was assigned as the lead investigator (and only investigator) on the case. The ex-cop states repeatedly that the chief shouldn’t have assigned her to the case but there’s no valid explanation to justify the assignment. I just don’t get it.
So, why the three stars instead of fewer? Because even with all the problems I had while reading, I still wanted to see how it ended up. I sort of grew to care about Rein and wanted to see him experience something positive.
The biggest reason for the higher rating is because of the way the serial killer’s motive was handled. I thought this was interesting and I wanted to know a lot more about him. More than what we were given because of the focus on the two cops but I loved what I got of that aspect of the book.
Will I read the sequel? Yeah, I sure will. I want to see if Santero matures into a better cop. I want to see what happens with the survivor from the previous book, and I want to see if Rein is reinstated or just continues to tag along, brooding, and not getting paid. And I also got an ARC from the author which started my whole interest in this series. He’s a cold-case solving cop who also seems really nice.
If you don’t mind POV changes mid-scene and enjoy dark, sometimes bloody serial killer/cop books, give this one a shot!