The Magpie
by Oliver Rock
Fireflies Publishing

"No body had been found on his birthday. He drew comfort in this and drifted back to sleep quickly, without the need for a cigarette or a drink."

The mood is decidedly somber in Amsterdam as a serial killer has the public spooked and the police baffled in this cold and damp Netherlands city. Van Loo, a beer-and-gin-swilling, moped-riding detective leads the task force charged with solving a series of murders that has left one naked male body in different parts of the city for each of the last ten months. When it comes to who is the most accomplished—the killer or the cops—the murderer is definitely ahead on points.

The author takes an interesting slant on telling his story in this oft-traveled genre. Rather than introducing potential victims or suspects as the narrative unfolds, he chooses instead to explore a number of peripheral individuals that may or may not have any relevance to the series of crimes. There’s the lesbian couple whose arguments are loud and occasionally violent. There’s the student by day who works at a brothel by night. There’s a wealthy and respected, widowed judge with a beautiful daughter whose boyfriend is a baker that moonlights as a house cleaner. There’s a barmaid with a penchant for blogging. Their current lives and backstories are laid out in detail, but are they really relevant or simply red herrings?

Rock is a methodical writer who unravels his yarn one detail at a time. Frequently, he circles back on what he’s already revealed at the expense of pace. Yet his storytelling is interesting enough that you want to stay with this mystery until the serial killer is unmasked. If you’re into wet streets, dead bodies, and crime capers, you’ll likely find this tale right up your alley.

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