The Echo Man is the 5th book in Richard Montanari's series featuring Detectives Balzano and Byrne.
Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne face one of their most baffling cases to date. A body is found - completely shaved, with the head wrapped in paper and sealing wax and a temporary tattoo on one finger. As the detectives delve further, they realize that the spot where the body was found is the scene of an unsolved cold case from eight years ago. The placement of the body is identical. And then - it happens again. Who has knowledge of these past crimes and what is the link?
The common link seems to be music. And Kevin Byrne. One of his first cases was that of a gifted musician. It seemed open and shut at the time....
" When the woman opened her eyes, Byrne felt something flicker in his chest. In his time on the streets of Philadelphia he had met all types of people, from soulless drug dealers, to smash-and-grab artists, to hopped-up joyriding kids. But never before had he encountered anyone so detached from the crime they had just committed. In her light-brown eyes Byrne saw demons caper from shadow to shadow. 'My name is Detective Kevin Byrne', he said. It's going to be all right'. It was November 1, 1990. Nothing has been right since."
But Kevin Byrne has demons of his own to battle. Nearly killed in a past case, he has been subject to blinding headaches, black outs and visions.
I enjoy the character of Jessica Balzano very much. The secondary storyline featuring her home life and family provides a continuing thread I have enjoyed following. I'm never sure what I think of Kevin Byrne. He's highly intelligent, quite determined, but doesn't always include his partner on his actions. I'm not sure if Montanari is aiming to be different with the vision thing, but I feel it sometimes interferes in what would be a solid detective series without adding it to the mix.
The plot of The Echo Man is quite ingenious and highly original. Reader beware - some of the descriptons are quite graphic. Lots of red herrings will keep you guessing until the end. Read an excerpt of The Echo Man.
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