Tuesday, May 15

In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

When one of her workers is found murdered, with a window cut through her middle, Liv Bergen reconnects with her old college friend Lisa Henry, who is the FBI profiler on the case. Offering her hospitality to the FBI, Liv finds herself wrapped up in the killer’s twisted schemes.

FBI agent, Streeter Pierce, is hunting the dubbed “Venus de Milo” murderer. Can he find him before he strikes again? This killer is close but clever. Who will stumble into his path next?

I read this book in practically one sitting. I’ve never been one to read many murder mystery novels because I’ve always been overwhelmed by the number of them my mum has stacked up on her shelves. This book was mine though, sitting on my shelf waiting for me. One I had opened it, I was sucked in.

Is it bad of me that I like serial killers with an artistic or literary bent? I was utterly absorbed by ‘Brother Grimm’ by Craig Russell, where the killer positions his victims in the style of the Grimm fairy tales. This was much the same, where “de Milo” is inspired by/obsessed with a particular artist.

The artist in question was one that I had heard of and seen the works of but seeing the twisted mind of the killer made me look at the art in a way that transcended more than, “That’s interesting.” Unless you’re very familiar with the artist, you will be as quizzical and enlightened as I was reading the book.

‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is written alternately in Liv’s first person perspective and third person. The close third person P.O.V. allows the reader to not only observe Streeter Pierce and the killer but also see into their thought processes.

Liv is a brilliant protagonist. She is intelligent and hardworking, vulnerable without being weak. She had a quirky sense of humour and a quick witted way of thinking and speaking that made me all the more drawn to her.

Streeter is a really peculiar first name. I just had to throw that out there. I was fascinated by the way he handles people. He knows how to get people to want to work with him, instead of feeling like they are being pressured by his position to work for him. He is manipulative in the subtlest of ways.

I was torn between repulsion and fascination for the killer. Even after his identity was disclosed, I can’t stop thinking about his twisted mind and the insights I had into it. A brilliant accomplishment by the writer.

Liv and Streeter’s roles in the novel are quite separate but I never felt as though the narrative was disjointed. It was constantly captivating and I look forward to reading the next Liv Bergen novel, ‘Lot’s Return to Sodom.’

‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is a book I would recommend to mystery lovers* but also those who, like me, are fascinated by the concept of a serial killer with an artistic bent.

*My mum is already pawing at this book and feels that it is inherently hers.

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received this book from the author. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Greenleaf Book Group LLC and is used solely as an aide to the review.

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