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The Skin Gods by Richard Montanari
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It amazes me how quickly some authors – Montanari included – shape up their story-telling ability between first and second-in-a-series novels. Not that there was anything overtly wrong with The Rosary Girls, but if I hadn’t already bought The Skin Gods, I might have quickly forgotten my urge to try another, and the author would have fallen by the wayside of my reading journey.

In the Skin Gods, broken but still-in-the-game Detective Kevin Byrne and his partner Jessica Balzano discover that the spliced-to-videotape murder of a young woman is just the beginning of a series of murders-by-film-homage. As Jessica follows ‘The Actor’s deliberately seeded clues and Byrne spends his enforced recuperation leave pursuing personal vendettas, the plot winds in seemingly random directions, the only straight line being from one murder to the next.

There’s something punchy, grass-roots gutsy about Montanari’s storytelling, so that even when he moves over old ground (forensic procedure, relationships between cops, the habits of the cops themselves) they feel like important parts of the storyline rather than a writer deliberately trying to inject authenticity, thus gaining authenticity and freshening well-trodden routes. It helps that the stories themselves are fresh, diverting and quite gruesome.

Two mild disappointments – [spoiler warning] for the second time, a principal character’s family is placed in danger and rescued last moment, and for the second time the motive is revenge for a cop’s actions. The details are different enough that I was still able to enjoy the story, but it did occur to me to wonder if Montanari’s plot wheel is stuck. And, finally, I still don’t know what to make of Byrne’s ‘prescient’ ability. It’s never used to solve the identity of the bad guy, but has bumped forward progress when time has been an issue, so is this deus ex machina, or a sort of sub-genre in play? It has not, so far, made me put down either story in disgust, so I guess I’ll keep going – I have the third book here, too, after all. ( )
  eleanor_eader | Aug 30, 2011 |
Great plot twists to the very end. Creepy serial killer!
  gmmakela | Sep 5, 2010 |
This is just as good if not a smudge better than The Rosary Girls, and that was a darn good read!

This picks up right where The Rosary Girls leaved off. Bryne is in Recovery from being shot on the last book. He's trying to come to terms with everything that happened in Rosary Girls.

While all of this is going on, it seems that there's a killer lose, and he has a horrific agenda. He wants to recreate famous murders that happen on screen, but make them a reality. The first one he copies is Psycho, and the nightmare starts. He doesn't just recreate them, he...well.... you'll have to read The Skin Gods to find out, but I will say this. The killers plan is unique.

To make matters worse Bryne isn't working on this case full time, he still hasn't come back from being shot. He's getting better physically, but he's still limited on what he can do, so he's never really into the loop on what's happening. That's okay because the killer brings in Bryne in his own special way. He does something that sends horror, and chills right to the heart of Bryne. Again, if you want to find out what the killer has planned for Bryne, you need to read this. With all of this going on, Bryne has another mission he has to complete. It seems that someone he put way is out, and Bryne wants to put him away for good.

Montanari is a very unique writer. He has the ability to hold the reader through plot twists, sharp dialogue, realistic settings, and fantastic characters that you can't help to care about. I can promise you that you'll lose a lot of sleep because you'll want to find out what happens next, and will keep you up to all hours of the night.

The saga continues, and I'm glad I'm along for the ride. ( )
  Reacherfan | Feb 9, 2010 |
Title: The Skin Gods
Author: Richard Montanari
Genre: Fiction-Suspense
# of pages: 395
Start date: 7/6
End date: 7/10
Borrowed/bought: borrowed from library
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B+

Description of the book: Philadelphia homicide detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne are up against a inventive serial killer with cinema muders. Copycat murders modeled on Psycho, Fatal Attraction and other movies are terrorizing the city, as the slayer splices film of his bloody re-enactments into rental videos stolen from and then returned to video stores. Byrne, recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound so it's up to Balzano, to take the lead in the investigation. Montanari's plot, which balances between the big-budget movie sets of a Philadelphia filmmaker made good and the porn industry. Several potential perpetrators rear their creepy heads, but the real killer comes out of left field—though readers very attentive to scattered clues won't be too taken aback by the gory denouement. Byrne's awkward relationship with his deaf teenage daughter, Colleen, after his divorce, and Balzano's concern for her precocious three-year-old daughter, Sophie, after she boots her philandering husband (and fellow cop) out of the house, add welcome humanity to a grisly, atmospheric thriller.
Review: Great followup-- the author also seems to have matured a little bit. ( )
  leperdbunny | May 3, 2009 |
Great grisly thriller on a murderer on the prowl
  sookmei | May 22, 2008 |
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Wie imiteert de beroemdste moorden uit de filmgeschiedenis?
For the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department. Brigh gach cluiche gu dheireadh.
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"What I really want to do is direct."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 009948689X, Paperback)

The streets of Philadelphia are blistering in the summer heat, the homicide rate is soaring and the nights belong to the mad. Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are prowling the streets with a growing sense of unease. Where next will evil rear its ugly head? When a series of seemingly unrelated crimes shatter the restless silence of the city, their worst fears are confirmed. A beautiful secretary is slashed to death in a grimy motel shower. A street hustler brutally murdered with a chainsaw. Piece by piece, a strange and sickening puzzle presents itself: someone is meticulously recreating Hollywood's most well-known and horrifying murder scenes, capturing them on film and inserting the clips into videos - for an unsuspecting public to find. While Kevin Byrne begins furtive investigations of his own, Jessica Balzano goes undercover to work the steaming back alleys of Philadelphia, entering a violent world of underground film, pornography and seedy nightclubs, hidden to all but the initiated. Discovering that none of The Actor's victims are as innocent as they appear to be, the two detectives arrive at a terrifying reality: They are not just chasing a homicide suspect. They are stalking evil itself ...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"The Skin Gods is a new thriller featuring Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. It is the steaming heart of summer in the City of Brotherly Love. Back on the force after taking a bullet during the arrest of a sadistic murderer, Detective Kevin Byrne warily returns to police headquarters. He cannot shake the memory of the Rosary Killer's innocent victims - or his growing sense that the evil has not been vanquished. And when he and his partner, Detective Jessica Balzano, are called in on a bizarre case, Byrne's gravest suspicions are confirmed." "A madman, dubbed The Actor by the homicide unit, is meticulously re-creating Hollywood's most famous - and most gruesome - death scenes. The first murder is caught on film, spliced into a rented VHS edition of the Hitchcock black-and-white masterpiece Psycho. But in place of Janet Leigh is a real-life woman, and this time, the blood is red and the knife is real. Soon more thrilling classics are turned into terrifying snuff films and placed on video store shelves for an unsuspecting public to find." "The key to this horrific puzzle could lie with any of The Skin Gods' supporting cast: the A-list Hollywood director, the ruthless executive assistant, the convicted mass murderer - or perhaps someone else who has made a sinister act of gruesome violence." "Hot on the psychopath's trail, Balzano and Byrne descend into the mouth of madness and beyond, deep into the depraved underworld of S&M clubs and the porn industry, where the worship of flesh leads to malevolent evil. Before the final credits roll, the investigators will discover that none of The Actor's victims are as innocent as they appear to be, and that the clue the police need to prevent future murders might be found in Detective Byrne's own dark past."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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