The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari

A Novel of Suspense – Reviewed by Joan Badie

This mystery, “The Rosary Girls,� is set in the city of Philadelphia. Although the crimes are too graphic, unbelievably cruel and distasteful, the description of the neighborhoods and personalities of different parts of the city is very down-to-earth and accurate. The author did his homework. The detectives featured in this story are well described and their interaction very well done. He combines not too much feeling, but lets the reader understand where the main characters are coming from in terms of background, family and emotion.

The writer is very skilled in setting up the murder situations and describing gross details along with the police investigation of the suspects and surroundings in the crime scenes. His choice of a religious (Catholic) background in the mystery is unappealing to me, the reader. However, the mad man perpetrator uses the rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries to execute his murder of young Catholic schoolgirls. Each girl is left with a rosary between bolted hands at the time of her death, along with other atrocities. Each is positioned in death on a Sorrowful mystery. The last girl escapes by hurling herself, despite a drugged condition, out of the car. The murderer, seeking the Crucifixion theme next, then turns to the female detective, Jessica, and her little five year old daughter, Sophie, for the final sacrifice. The action is gory and stimulating at the climax. At the end, the author seems to imply the death of the murderer’s premature baby and subsequent decline of his wife and marriage, led to his infamous crime spree. It seems the murderer was expecting a resurrection of his baby (The grave was recently dug up.)by his horrible murders during Holy Week before Easter.

The story of the detectives’ lives are also portrayed and one feels they actually know them. Kevin Byrne is the male detective of many years who suffered a near death experience and now has a sixth sense of murder happenings and a feel for the evil of the murderer. He ends up in the hospital, but opens his eyes to life once again while Jessica, his partner, is there.

The author really gets you wondering who the murderer really is! He is obviously very skilled. Yet, I feel it is not at all wise to write such gruesome details and explanations as it my lead to some deranged guy to try it on others. I call to mind the killing of the Amish girls in Lancaster, Pennsylvania early in this year of 2007 with the lame explanation the murderer was still grieving over the loss of a premature baby some years ago.

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