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Patterson, James and Marklund, Liza - 'Postcard Killers'
Hardback: 420 pages (Sep. 2010) Publisher: Century ISBN: 1846057663

In this latest book from James Patterson he collaborates with best-selling Swedish author, Liza Marklund to give POSTCARD KILLERS a predominantly Swedish setting with a good portion of the action taking place in Stockholm, a city which many crime readers will have a good picture of through reading Stieg Larsson.

Jacob Kanon has taken a leave of absence from his NYPD job to track down the "Postcard Killers" who have been leaving a trail of bodies throughout Europe, including someone very close to Jacob. He won't rest until the killers have been caught. The killers, whom the reader is privy to, select couples in love and get close enough to drug and kill them before leaving their bodies in a pose reminiscent of the country's most famous artwork. The killers advertise their presence in a country by sending a postcard to someone in the media, followed by a Polaroid of the dead bodies.

Dessie Larsson, a journalist for Aftonposten in Stockholm has just received such a postcard and so Jacob crosses her path. Unwashed and smelling, she doesn't trust him at first but eventually they become a team (both personal and professional) and Dessie is able to identify the artwork theme, long before the police. An unexpected twist in the actions of the killers sets the story in a different direction and in the final section, one of the iconic IKEA stores plays an important role in the final confrontation between the good and bad guys.

I've read both Patterson and Marklund before so I was intrigued by this combination and perhaps expecting perhaps a little too much by the way of influence from Marklund. It did take me a while to get into the story as the killers and Jacob aren't very likeable and Dessie, despite being a bicycling, bisexual, vegetarian, with an unusual upbringing in the north of the country, is an uninvolving character. Jacob blusters his way around - and it's fortunate that all Swedish people speak near-flawless English - before ultimately showing the Swedish police how rubbish they are; they overlook a vital piece of evidence and refuse to follow one of his hunches.

Once I got into it, POSTCARD KILLERS, which has 140 chapters in a 420 page book, was a gripping and quick read. If you like a pacy, page-turning read about sadistic serial killers who have esoteric reasons for their actions then this is for you. The bonus for me being, that it's set mostly in Europe, not the US, and more specifically Sweden. A few titbits about Swedish life are thrown in but don't expect any social commentary; despite the contribution by Marklund, this feels more like a tourist's version of Sweden rather than a resident's.

Karen Meek, England
September 2010

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 17/10/2010 12:02