When the remains of a murdered woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine left by the murderer from another crime scene with a physically similar victim. And he uncovers the signature at both scenes---the mark of a sad face. At the same time, another killer, one Steps has dubbed Leonardo and has been trying to track for over ten years, appears again, taunting Steps. But while Steps tries to find a clue that will lead him to Leonardo, the case of the Sad Face Killer heats up. The team uncovers eleven possible victims: missing women who fit the same pattern. Using his skill and the resources of the Bureau, it is a race against time to find the killer before it's too late.
What I liked: I couldn't put Collecting the Dead down and thought about it way too much after I was done. It's horrific in some ways but it's like watching a train wreck....you can't stop.
I have absolutely no idea why I decided to request the ARC from NetGalley except it sounded just a bit different from most thrillers I read. The difference is the lead character, Magnus Craig, otherwise known as "Steps" or in some cases, "The Human Bloodhound", is billed as a tracker but can really see the essence of a person. That includes seeing and following a trail made by anyone. As only three individuals know of his ability, he has to appear to actually be tracking someone.
He works for the FBI Special Tracking Unit and along with his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan gets called in on very special cases. In Collecting the Dead, they are trying desperately to find a serial killer. Steps works with his team to evaluate clues but it's not just Steps who is the star. His partner, Jimmy, has a background in psycology and is very gifted in dealing with witnesses and predicting the behavior of the suspects. In addition, I love the character, Diane Parker, who is a research genius. She's able to find the most minute clue to give Jimmy and Steps different directions to investigate.
This is an horrific book dealing with a serial killer. As I understand it, most serial killers are very smart but Sad Face takes it to a whole new level. In many instances, his thought processes put him ahead of the whole FBI team and the local police involved in each murder.
I love the interactions between all the characters. There is even some humor and some macabre conversations between the team. It's a way of dealing with all the horrible killings they work on.
Mr. Kope's writing is clean, tight, and draws you in and hooks you. I thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and the way he developed the story, characters and plot.
What I didn't like: I don't know if it was my mood or not but the very beginning didn't come together for me. It took me a little bit to get invested in the story. Now, I know this next bit was probably done on purpose but I wanted more backstory on Steps and Jimmy, especially Steps.
Mr. Kope does give a bit of info on Steps' background but I feel there is more coming and can't wait to read the next book. Hopefully there is a next book because the ending suggests there should be.
Overall, if you like thrillers or suspense novels, you'll love Collecting the Dead.