Plot & Pace: A brilliantly paced, well executed detective novel that leaves your heart thumping page after page with the suspense and thrill of the story. Sargent Reid moved away from the busy city life for a quiet rural existence; mainly due to suffering what I believe was post-traumatic stress syndrome after investigating the murders of four young girls. The family life is starting to wane, there's no excitement, no passion with an Island that is as calm as the waters which surround it.
That is until he dreams the murder of a girl that turns to reality. Chloe is the first of a serial killing spree which begins to consume the Island, it's residents and Reid himself. Trying to separate his personal feelings from his job gets increasingly difficult with each new murder; Johanna, Nichole... as the killer gets more confident and more cocky, the ground underneath Reid's feet and the foundations of his investigation begin to crumble.
For we meet the killer as a young boy to the current day man he has become. Alienated from his peers, with a self-image that he's "pathetic" and a deeply disturbing mentality, Ben's psychotic behaviour and thoughts develop with age. Being in control in his own world, making his own law and order is how he copes and in doing so, he believes this gives him the licence to torture, mutilate and kill women.
As his confidence grows it's clear that he is clever and cunning, with no set pattern or clues that the police can latch onto. For at first it was a one off murder, now a series of bodies, then the possibility he isn't acting alone, there's more than one killer, he doesn't appear to have a unique 'type', the methods of the torture and killing evolves... there is little for Reid to go on. That is, until the hunter becomes the hunted and now it turns personal.
Fast paced, with twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night till you finish the last page. The plot though quite typical of the genre, was still incredibly gripping and entertaining. There were a few minor details within the plot which would need to be ironed should the author write another detective novel but these are hardly worth of note to the average reader.
Setting: For me the setting of the book, on Prince Edward Island, located off the coast of mainland Canada, was brilliantly atmospheric. The island seemed to be the typical ghost town; eerily quite during the off-peak tourist season and where everyone knows everyone else's business but still manage to keep themselves to themselves. The red sand and references to red throughout the novel really create this feeling that there is a deep disturbing secret underlying the island which no one wants to admit; (plus leading to a great title for the book itself). I almost had a strange sense of deja vu when reading the novel; the setting really reminded me of the film Insomnia - if you've seen the film you'll understand what I mean.
Characters: If the plot was slightly stereotypical, the characters took it to the extreme. I had issues with Sargent Reid from the start; he clearly had PTS and his own psychological problems to contend with; part of me wandered why he was still employed as it was obvious from the beginning the boundaries of his professional and personal life were becoming blurred. I don't know why none of the other detectives picked it up. That said you knew he would be a digger, contemplating the minute details of the case and really give you an insight into the detective world. The use of Police acronyms also added to the realism.
The serial killer, Ben, was also very cliched; he started killing animals first (a typical personality trait in psychopaths), had issues growing up, was not accepted by his peers, was sexually frustrated etc. On the other hand, we also saw how he had used these traits to blend into society so that no one suspected him; he had a dual personality in a sense or was a very good actor. It gave a different perspective other than he was just born to kill; he was born with the traits but society turned him into the killer.
Language Used & Dialogue: The description was absolutely wonderful and the literary techniques employed by the author were great. To give one example, when the pathologists are examining Chloe at the site of her hanging, we are given a description of her body that is used to inform her personality. This departs from the usual formal identification by family member, researching into her life etc.
I also really liked how the author used all of your senses in the novel. Drip, red and other adjectives were used really effectively so that it bought the story to life.
The dialogue was good but not fantastic. Mainly as the stereotypical personalities of the characters also came out in some of the dialogue: "Somebody saw something. Someone is talking out there" and "I want to
know these women better than I know myself". It's slightly cringe-worthy which is quite disappointing.
Narration: The chapters alternate between Reid's narrative in the first person and Ben's in the third. The narrative itself is very good especially in regards to the build up and back story to Ben's life. Following both the detective and serial killer meant you could piece together little bits of the puzzle as you went along. Firstly, (when not knowing that Ben was the serial killer) you try to find clues and work out how he's involved in the plot. Then later, you try to jump a step or two ahead, work out his next move and when the two main characters will collide.
Themes & Ideas: Though the book is not remarkably original and in some case quite obvious there is still an element of unpredictability. I think if you really like the good guy vs bad guy, similar and familiar characters and detective novel set up, you'll love it. But I don't think it pushes the boundaries hard enough.
Overall Verdict: All in all a very enjoyable and gripping book which delivers on many levels. Though in some instances it was very stereotypical of the genre, it is still a great detective thriller in it's own right. I would love to see a follow-up and turn Reid's character into a detective series. Definitely an author to watch out for. 4* Stars.”