Portraits of The Dead (John Nicholl)

31450072.jpgEmma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night. Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women. The greater the evil, the more deadly the game… How far would you go to save your life?

Portraits of The Dead is a classic mix of a psychological thriller and a police procedural, so it is clearly perfect for me. The premise, although clearly not original (an abducted woman kept prisoner by a dangerous killer), quickly caught my attention. I don’t really care about the plot being a bit overused if the story manages to keep me intrigued.

This novel was undoubtedly a fast read and it was also really entertaining. The detectives were fun to read (especially Gravel) and the part of the book that focused on the killer and the young girl was creepy enough to keep you wanting to read more and more. What is it that attracts us to this kind of dark twisted minds?

In terms of the plot, I’m not so sure about revealing the killer so soon, although there was a nice addition that made the story more interesting and original and I’m sure everyone who read Portraits of The Dead will agree with me. However, the highlight of this book was the ending, hands down. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that this is just the kind of conclusion I love.

There was something that bothered me, though, regarding the writing. The author was great with the tension and clearly knew how to keep you gripped, but I thought that the descriptions/thoughts were a bit unrealistic. Basically, the narrator knew what every one of the characters were thinking right before they spoke and I found that a bit annoying and also confusing. “Oh my god, what will he do?” “How many times did one have to say the damned thing?” “Wasn’t it obvious? Did he really need to spell it our?” I just didn’t like that way of telling the story, but maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, if you want to read a fast-paced, creepy thriller with a nice twist ending, this is the right book for you. It might not stand out among other similar novels, but fans of the genre will enjoy it for sure.

Similar recommendations:

Still Missing (Chevy Stevens)
The Rosary Girls (Richard Montanari)

Other reviews:

The Belgian Reviewer
The Suspense Is Thrilling Me
The Book Review Café
My Chestnut Reading Tree

⭐️⭐️⭐️

 2016 – Copy from author

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Published by

Annie

In a past life, I was probably a tortured police detective with a dark and traumatic past. Right now, however, I'm just a twenty-something bookworm who loves listening to old songs and watching 90s movies. I enjoy mystery and crime, southern coming of age stories and historical fiction set in the last century.

29 thoughts on “Portraits of The Dead (John Nicholl)

  1. Thank you for the link to my review! That’s such a great idea too (if time consuming perhaps). I loved reading your take on this novel, I agree for the majority although I was most impressed with the first big twist.. who suspected that ?!

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  2. Great review. This sounds like my kind of book. I have been avoiding police procedural lately but I don’t mind when its mixed with thrillers. I will look out for this.

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      1. I don’t like all the details on the investigation. I don’t watch those detective shows like CSI etc for that reason but I do watch Criminal Minds because of the mix. I prefer when the psychos/criminals are the main focus of the story and not the cops 🙂

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  3. I like the sound of this one! It’s on my Kindle but again, time is what I need and can’t find! I’m glad you enjoyed it despite the weird narration problem! That cover is creepy, I’m happy I don’t own a physical copy, haha!

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    1. Hahaha I love the clown in the cover! Don’t worry, take your time, I’m sure there are others that you’ll like better!! This was fun, but one of my faves lately!

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