Thicker Than Blood (Zoe Bentley #3), by Mike Omer

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mike Omer, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning for the third in the Zoe Bentley series, the reader is able to get a real grasp for how Mike Omer seeks to shape the book and his protagonist. While still in Chicago, FBI forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley and Special Agent Tatum Gray are hot on the heels of Rod Glover, a serial killer who has been terrorising people across America. When Bentley learns of the murder of a young woman, she noses her way into the crime scene, thinking that it might be Glover’s work. CPD officials are less than happy to have her poking around, but Bentley and Gray refuse to back down. It soon becomes apparent that the case is not Glover’s work, as there is an odd angle, where the killer appears to have a form of vampirism. The woman who was slain is the daughter of a pastor, giving Bentley and Gray a lead to follow. No one has seen or heard of Glover, but the loose description sounds a little like Daniel Moore, a congregant who has admitted to having issues in his past. While Bentley and Gray try to track down the killer, they begin to wonder if this is a partnered job, with Glover as the alpha male, but the unsub (unknown subject) as the one choosing the victims. While learning a little more about the Chicago vampire community, Bentley and Gray must also keep their eyes open for more crimes. Another woman is found dead, her body with telltale marks of a blood letting, which only increases the pressure. Working all the angles, Bentley and Gray must find the killer, as well as their specific prize in Rod Glover, before more women lose their lives. An interesting addition to the series, though Omer’s chill and sharpness seem to have been muted somewhat in this piece. Recommended to those who enjoy the series, as well as the reader who wants something a little unique in the killer on the loose.

If memory serves, I picked up the first book in this collection on the recommendation of a friend. I could not get enough and loved how the story moved well, showing the progress Zoe Bentley could make in her search for a killer. By this, the third book, I had high hopes for Omer to keep things moving, but they got a little clunky. More on that in a moment. Zoe Bentley remains the star of the book, though she is not as pristine and on point as I would have liked. She remains focussed on finding the man she once called her neighbour and friend as a child, knowing his days are numbered. While Rod Glover may have brain cancer, Zoe is sure not to let up on her hunt. That said, she seems to have a harder time using that psychology degree that got her the prime position in the FBI. Other characters help to advance the story well, but many did not shine as I would have liked. The story’s premise was strong and well worth my time, but I felt things either did not move with the rapidity that I would have expected, or the interactions were less sharp and spine-tingling, which is something that Omer has done so well in the past. The hunt for the killers was constant, but it appeared as though Bentley and Gray were spinning their wheels. Even the aspects with the killer in the narrative driver’s seat were sometimes lacking the flair they needed to push things forward. With Omer using the short chapter technique to keep the reader hooked, there were moments when the narrative and excitement dwindled, leaving the reader to continue in hopes of finding the spark. While I did not dislike the book, this was surely my least favourite of the collection to date.

Kudos, Mr. Omer, for more Zoe Bentley reading. I suppose this might have been an aberration in your usually stellar style, at least in my eyes.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: