First published back in May of 2004, American author Jonathan Nasaw’s psychological thriller ‘27 Bones’ was the third novel to involve the ex-special agent and authority on serial killers, E. L. Pender.

DLS Synopsis:
When Pender is offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the eastern Caribbean by the chief of police on the island of Saint Luke (a fictional composite of three U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John) – Julian Coffee; Pender feels compelled to do what he can for his old friend.  The vacation won’t hurt either.

Three corpses have cropped up on the once tranquil tourist island; each corpse having had the right hand removed at the wrist.  With his background in serial killers, Pender has been called in to help catch the killer behind the atrocious crimes that is now being dubbed the ‘Machete Man’. 

Whilst the police dedicate all their efforts and resources to finding a lone killer, Pender begins to unearth the terrifying truth behind the murders; exposing the horrific reality of a sexually depraved and murderous couple named the Epp’s who together with their all-too-willing helper Benny are responsible for the crimes.

But the corrupt evil doesn’t end there.  Lurking even further behind it all is the all-too-familiar power of greed.  What Pender is about to uncover is more complex and more uncompromisingly callous than just the simple depravity of two sadistic lovers joined together through the passion for torture.  There is someone else getting what they want from it all.  Someone who could easily have put a stop to it all from the start.  Someone who encouraged and then planned to reap the rewards from this horrific and complex ploy.  The more flesh you pull back...the deeper the wound gets...

DLS Review:
From very early on in the novel, the murderous couple are revealed to the reader together with a cruel insight into their particular motivations for the dreadful atrocities on show.  Drawing potent similarities to the real-life serial killers - Fred and Rose West, Nasaw’s murdering couple, the Epp’s, display a catalogue of perversions and depraved sexual desires that has ultimately led them down the path to the lust for sadistic murder.  Nasaw’s characterization of these killers is well carved out and quietly calculated; showing the motivation and reasons for their actions from the startlingly nauseating first-person-perspective of the Epp’s.  This internal viewpoint flashes a haunting and harrowing image of the terrible crimes committed, from an angle that drags the reader deep into the gruesomeness of it all.

Nasaw skilfully employs layers of intertwining subplots that together build up a complex backbone for the tale to feed from.  As the novel progresses, so Nasaw plays with the complexities of the plot, throwing in these further levels and depths to the entire premise.  With the introduction of a financial aspect to be gained from it all by the hidden forth player, the novel takes on a whole new angle, in doing so, it well and truly submerging the reader into the murky depths of the corruption being gradually exposed.

The novel is fast-paced throughout, with a wealth of finely developed and lovingly created characters to be used and abused for the want of a thrilling and engaging read.

The sexual side to the psychotic killers is powerful in the administration of its first-person-perspective, as well as the simplicity of the sheer depths of depravity on show.  Admittedly there are far more shocking and stomach churning novels out there, but Nasaw’s 27 Bones’ still plays a hard punch to the guts with its gritty portrayal of the sexual depravity that echoes the West’s motivations so hauntingly.

With the tension gradually building towards the dramatic heart-pounding conclusion, the sudden bursts of unexpected twists to the plot keep the pace alive with edge-of-the-seat action and never-ending excitement.

The novel runs for a total of 360 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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