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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Thief of All Light by Bernard Schaffer *(Kensington)

The Thief of All Light
     A Santero and Rein Thriller
written by Bernard Schaffer
published by Kensington Books

276 Pages

July 31, 2018
ISBN 10: 1496717139

ISBN 13: 978-149671713
My Review:
Meet Carrie Santero -a hungry, young, female detective taken under the wing of an older, experienced Chief Bill Waylon. Now I know we can usually change the names and the story is the same. Not this time. Bernard Schaffer has been writing and indie-publishing for years. Honing his craft. Surrounding himself by the most respected writers today. He has also worked in law enforcement. Allowing himself to sit face to face with the worst of the worst. Society hears the carefully worded news reports so often we have become nearly immune to what defines true, pure, evil. But the officers, out there in the muck, following the sickening clues that lead to the bad guy, they have not become immune . . . They are affected. I would dare to almost go so far as to say infected by the demented cruelty the "subject" has inflicted upon their victims and the chaos left behind for the families. Schaffer has taken that knowledge, his understanding of a tortured officer and woven it, oh so carefully, into his character, Jacob Rein. Rein's has a history that only begins to unfold half-way through the book.

The first part of the book is dedicated to really getting to know Carrie. She's the definition of a daddy's girl. She loves her best friend Molly and her daughter, who they lovingly call Nubs. She and Molly have spats like high school girls from time to time because to put it in Molly's words - "she has needs." Carrie has an insatiable appetite for profiling. She's read every book she can get her hands on. Once, she even contacted Charles Mason. She endures a great deal of ribbing, nasty references to her female genitalia, and slimy utterings of how she earns promotions. But she often leaves her fellow officers gape-jawed with her own smart-assy retorts. (You go girl!) She works her fair share of blah-blah-boring incidents, then the bodies start piling up at the morgue.

Could there be more than one psychopath in their rural Pennsylvania town? Or is one subject recreating the crimes of history's most notorious serial killers? With clues that seem to lead nowhere, Chief Waylon knows exactly where they need to go. Making contact with Jacob Rein is one thing, getting him to help is another. Rein described as the best of the best, brilliant, and dedicated looked into the abyss once too often. The ugliness and evil got to him. Then he was involved in an auto accident that killed a young girl. Although he was not at fault, the Father was, Rein pled guilty and did a stint in prison. He is a tortured soul residing within the shell of a once well-respected detective. Now working day to day, living a homeless, rootless, solitary existence.
But, Carrie, on the brink of a meltdown, is not willing to take no for answer and doesn't allow Rein to simply walk away.

The second half of the book is filled with Carrie and Jacob searching for a killer or killers. The emotional attachment between Carrie and Molly adds a layer to the story that's often missing in suspense novels. Schaffer did an excellent job building that relationship, let us have fun and relax a little with those scenes. Because of the crimes, I hate to say that I enjoyed reading this book, but those who love suspense/thrillers, true crime, or TV shows and documentaries will understand exactly what I mean. Schaffer's characters are three-dimensional and filled with personality. Carrie is a strong female trying to claim her position in a predominately male environment. Reading about her is both interesting and fun. Chief Waylon is the father-figure type. Even-tempered (most of the time), knows his stuff and is willing to share his vast knowledge with an up-and-coming detective. Then there's Jacob Rein. While I like the fallen ex-detective aspect, the reasoning for his traumatized state and self-inflicted punishment is ludicrous. I really wish Schaffer had given Rein a different back-story. I felt this weakened Rein's credibility, intelligence, and strength as a character. Especially with the "poor me" repetition. On more than occasion, I just wanted to scream at him!

Scenes are written with pin-point description, There's no waste of words or fluffing. The author gives the reader just what we need to picture what is going on and keeps moving forward. Although the pacing feels relaxed, as I turned every three or four pages, I could feel it building, quickening, urging me to keep reading. The clues are carefully disguised, causing me to rethink what was happening. The ending, while everything comes together, forming a complete picture, it felt incomplete. Rushed maybe. It just didn't fit with the first half of the book. It felt as though a lot of heart was penned in the first 50-60% of the story. Then the remaining pages were hastily configured and stapled in.

At 276 pages The Thief of All Light is a fast read that can easily be devoured in one afternoon or evening. I enjoyed the author's voice and appreciate the real-world experience he threaded into the story. I, personally could have lived without the vulgarities, but there again, realism. The characters are interesting and the author has me invested in Carrie's life. I will most certainly read any follow up to this book.

Happy Reading,


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36840335 "It was one thing to fantasize about evil, to reach into the darkness and play with it a little . . ."

Rookie cop Carrie Santero has always been fascinated by serial killers. As a teenager, she wrote a letter to Charles Manson in prison--and received a chilling reply. Then she came face to face with a child murderer in her small Pennsylvania town, an encounter that haunts her to this day. Now, as a detective in training, she finally has her chance to make a difference; to hunt down a psychopathic sadist who embodies the very nature of evil itself.

." . . but it was something different when it knew your name."

The killer draws inspiration from the most twisted minds in modern crime. Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Ed Gein. The Green River Killer. As the body count rises, Carrie and her boss, Chief Bill Waylon, realize they're dealing with an unpredictable "omnikiller" who cannot be profiled. Their only hope is to enlist the help of Jacob Rein, a brilliant but tarnished former detective who has plumbed the darkest recesses of the soul. Who has seen the heart of darkness. And whose insights on evil could lead Carrie to the point of no return.

The Thief of All Light -
A fast read that leaves you wanting more!

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