book cover of The Rosary Girls
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The Rosary Girls

(2005)
(The first book in the Byrne and Balzano series)
A novel by

 
 
The scene is carefully set--a teenage parochial school girl, artfully posed in death with her arms chained around a graffiti-scarred pillar, clutching a rosary and a picture of a religious painting by Robert Blake. The next three murder victims are found in similar tableaus, each one suggesting the next in a string of calculated killings whose themes are foretold in the sorrowful mysteries familiar to Catholic scholars. It takes Philadelphia detective Jessie Balzano back to her own adolescence and a priest who understands what the grisly slayings are about, but by the time she realizes who's next on the murderer's list and why, time has nearly run out for Jessie and her own daughter. Along with her new partner Kevin Byrne, a former superstar cop with his own secret past and a disturbing tendency to read killers' minds, Jessie makes a strong debut in Montanari's uneven, overwrought thriller, whose Gothic touches--like "living ghosts hovering in darkness, hollow-eyed and craven" in "a Gethsemane amid the cracked concrete and rotten wood and ruined dreams" to describe the abandoned cellar where the first crime took place, for example--too often overpower an otherwise satisfying read. --Jane Adams

Genre: Mystery

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