Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Fourth Sacrifice

The Fourth Sacrifice by Peter May
Quercus: 5/1/18
eBook review copy; 512 pages
paperback ISBN-13: 9781681440866

The Fourth Sacrifice by Peter May is a recommended thriller and the sequel to The Firemaker.

On the eve of her departure for home, Dr. Margaret Campbell, a forensic pathologist from the United States, is asked to work with the Chinese police and conduct the autopsy of a beheaded man. The man, Yuan Tao, was a naturalized citizen of the United States and he was also apparently the fourth beheaded man in a string of ritual murders that could indicate the work of a serial killer. Margaret finds herself working with police Deputy Section Chief Li Yan, with whom she previously had a romantic relationship, and she is bitter at his perceived rejection of her. She doesn't know that Li was ordered to end his relationship with her. To further complicate matters archeologist Michael Zimmerman, as he introduces Margaret to the treasures of China, is making it clear to her that he is very interested in a relationship with her.

The plot mixes mystery, romance and history in the character driven narrative. The quality of the writing is good. May does do a great job setting the place and provides a lot of excellent information about and background for the Chinese culture. He provides the descriptions and background to create a total picture of China. Aside from the cultural references, there are little nit-picky details and lack of details about other topics that annoyed me. I could chose to set them aside and simply enjoy the story, which is predictable, but moves along quickly (when not trying to educate us about Chinese culture which does slow down the forward movement of the plot).

Since The Fourth Sacrifice is character driven, Margaret presents a bit of a problem, as she is a very unlikable character. Now, I haven't read the first novel, so perhaps she is more personable in that novel and the broken relationship is what drives her negative attitude. While I enjoyed this novel, it didn't leave me wanting to read the first one.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Quercus.

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