Select one of the keywords
A Cruel Season for Dying    by Harker Moore order for
Cruel Season for Dying
by Harker Moore
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is an impressive debut. In A Cruel Season for Dying, Moore combines a suitably horrifying serial killer chiller with a big dose of Japanese culture and unique, subtly interesting protagonists. The killer has a very specific agenda, and a gradual revelation of his background and motivations gives it credibility. He sees auras, gives his victims the names of fallen angels, and poses their bodies with swans' wings. The expected misdirection about the murderer's identity is effective, though I did guess before it was revealed.

NYPD Detective Akira (Jimmy) Sakura was brought up in Japan and then in California. He's married to Japanese Hanae, who's a talented sculptress, despite her blindness. His home with her is a peaceful retreat from the horrors of his job. I enjoyed the descriptions of their lifestyle and beliefs, as well as Jimmy's recollections of his past in Japan, in particular of his grandmother's funeral ceremony, in which she 'lay dressed in a white kimono, folded right over left, a mirror of life, marking her passage from this world.'

As the number of victims rises, so does the pressure on Sakura. There's a leak to the press from his department, a disturbing connection to the Catholic Church, and his boss is on his case. Jimmy calls on two old friends. One is intuitive ex-cop Michael Darius, called Kenjin ('old sad wise one') by Hanae. The other is profiler Wilhelmina (Willie) French, who has become Hanae's friend as well as 'a wife's small and secret pathway into her husband's hidden life.' Willie believes that the killer is programming his victims to become part of his own fantasy.

As the investigation proceeds slowly and the body count rises, the killer spirals in ever closer to the good guys. The suspense builds to the point that I grew afraid to turn the pages, but still had to find out what happened next. And I liked the ending, which is not the usual trite happily ever after, but acknowledges damage done to those involved. It also leaves some interesting ambiguities to the reader ... or perhaps to a sequel? If so, I look forward to it.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews