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Collecting the Dead    by Spencer Kope order for
Collecting the Dead
by Spencer Kope
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2017 (2016)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

There's nothing hard-boiled about the lead in Spencer Kope's Collecting the Dead. Magnus 'Steps' Craig. Steps is just a really nice guy who's part of an FBI Special Tracking Unit. But a unique ability led him to that role. He can see a shine that uniquely identifies individuals on anything they've touched. He can also tell whether or not they are still among the living.

Previous successes have led to the media calling him the Human Bloodhound, but they don't know his secret - only a few do, including his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan. The third member of their team is intelligence analyst Diane Parker. But poor Steps doesn't really enjoy the wilderness areas they search like Jimmy does, and he's getting very tired of collecting the dead.

As the story opens, they are tracking a woman whose husband reported her missing. Turns out he killed her. In a subsequent search in California, Steps recognizes the shine on the victim from a previous case, where the killer also left a sad face behind. While this develops, Steps renews his relationship with Heather Jennings, the reporter who labelled him a Human Bloodhound.

Working together, the Unit gradually narrows down the search for the Sad Face serial killer (they have already counted eleven victims). He taunts those tracking him and there's collateral damage but they do get him in the end. This was an absorbing read and it looks like there will be more as Steps has long sought a killer, Leonardo, whose shine he first saw in his youth and who has obsessed him ever since. I look forward to it.

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