Publication Date: April 28, 2015
In a quiet Philadelphia suburb, a woman pushing a stroller finds a dead young girl seated on the bench at a train station platform. She is the first of many that will be left with an invitation to a tea dance.
As the murders escalate and porcelain dolls begin turning up, Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano race to find the killer and prevent more young people from being killed.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: February 27, 2018
This was one of the audiobooks I got when Audible had a 2-1 deal back in June. I put it off for several months because I had heard nothing about this prior to getting the book and I was nervous to listen to a mystery book. The last mystery I listened to before this - River Road - hadn't turned out so well and I was really hesitant to start this. Also, with how many mysteries I've read over the years, I was worried that I would be unimpressed with this.
But, to my surprise, this was so well-written and well-narrated that I went back and decided to start at the beginning of the series to listen to the first 7 books in this series. Though this is the 8th book, I never felt like I was confused because I hadn't read the first 7 books. Like many mystery series, you can read these out of order and still be fine.
The plot really intrigued me from the beginning and kept me listening. While it may have taken me almost the entire month of February to finish this, it was more because I didn't have the time to just sit down and listen. I would listen to it while walking to classes and doing small chores like laundry and the dishes, but other than that, it's quite hard for me to find the time to listen to audiobooks.
Not only was the plot well-written and really well-paced, it was also really interesting. While this is a fairly common mystery trope to have criminals posing their victims as dolls, this was a different take on that trope and I really enjoyed it. The writing was so well done and I loved every minute of listening to this. Montanari has a real talent for writing mysteries and piecing together different plot lines without revealing too much. He knows exactly how much to reveal.
When I got to the end, I was incredibly pleased with how things wrapped up. It's hard to wrap up a mystery well, especially one that was nearly 500 pages long. Every moment of the book led up to a great finale and kept me wanting more. It pushed me to start from the beginning, like I said earlier, and I will definitely add Montanari to the short list of authors who can really keep me in suspense. I will be following this series until it ends, which I hope won't be for a long time.
I really liked Kevin Byrne, even though it took me a little while to warm up to him. Once I did, I thought that he was a really strong male character, and that he balanced his partner out very well. I could really see the traits that make him such a good, passionate detective, and I can't wait to see more of him.
I also really enjoyed Jessica Balzano, the other half of the detective team. She was such a strong female lead, both as a detective and as a mother. The only thing I wished is that I got to spend more time with her in this book. I felt like I was getting more of Byrne, and while that wasn't a bad thing, I wanted more from Balzano's perspective.
5 stars. I've already had someone ask me if they can read this because of my Goodreads rating, but I had to tell them I got it on audiobook. If you can find this in the store or have Audible credits, I would highly recommend picking this up. Montanari deserves more recognition than he has.