Austrian writer Ursula Archer is a science journalist who has previously published YA and children’s books. Now she turns her hand to police procedural thriller in FIVE and readers will be very happy with her decision.
The book starts out with a bang: “The place where his left ear used to be was throbbing to the rhythm of his heartbeat. Fast and panicked.”
And the pace never lets up as police detectives Beatrice Kaspary and Florin Wenninger become involved in solving a series of increasingly confusing murders. First is the body of a woman who fell from a cliff who turns out to have GPS coordinates tattooed on the soles of her feet.
When the detectives trace the spot of these coordinates, they find a severed hand and more taunts that lead them to yet another site and more body parts. It soon becomes clear they are on the trail of a murderer who is using the sport of geocaching in a far more sinister way than usual.
The clues they are given are frustrating and obtuse, sometimes leading to a witness who then disappears, and all the time the two detectives feel the killer is playing with them. Then he starts to leave Beatrice text messages on her phone and the tension, never abated, ratchets up.
This is a clever and well-plotted mystery with the puzzle at its heart that grabs you and doesn’t let go. That the detectives are compelling figures adds to the mix. Let’s hope this is the first of a series from Archer. Auntie M will be lining up to read the next translation.