Scarecrow (Danny Sanchez #1), by Matthew Pritchard

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Matthew Pritchard and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When the publisher asked me to read this piece, I was taken in by the description provided on the dust jacket. Anything with a serial killer element is sure to bring chills up the spine and keep the reader connected throughout the journey. Danny Sanchez is a reporter for a small newspaper in a British retirement community in Spain. While covering an article about homes being torn down, Sanchez is shocked to discover that there is a body in the wall of one such residence. What makes it even more gruesome is that the body has been emasculated and obviously left for a period of time. After another body is found in a similar state, Sanchez notices the additional clue of face paint on the victim, which triggers something in his memory. Fifteen years before, Sanchez was working in the U.K., where a serial killer was stalking his victims and leaving them with face paint, as well as slashed genitalia. Sanchez returns to the U.K., where he knows the killer has been institutionalized. Might there have been a copycat killer, or could The Scarecrow have had an accomplice during the slayings? The closer Sanchez gets to answers, the more people distance themselves from him. Danny Sanchez refuses to stop until he gets to the bottom of this, even if it means uncovering a network of serial killers working in concert. The trouble is, without knowing how many there are, will impossible to tell just how to stop the body count from growing. Readers can expect some decent writing in this piece, though I am not entirely sure I found the chilling depictions I sought.

After reading this piece, I’ve come to discover that the premise for this novel was strong, its writing well-developed, but the delivery lacked a little something. Writing in this genre needs something edgy and sharp, though Pritchard has given readers some work with rounded edges. The gore and the mystery were well-paced, but I needed something that would keep me up well into the night and create worry about the bumps in the night. Danny Sanchez is an interesting character the reader can enjoy in their own way. His gritty journalism background is apparent throughout, as is his determination to get to the bottom of each lead he uncovers. While he appears to be hot on the trail of this mysterious killer, Sanchez cannot crack things wide open or place himself in a position that keeps the reader chilled and guessing. Others in the story offer place sittings to keep the story moving, though I am not entirely enthralled with many of those who grace the various chapters of the story. I will admit that Pritchard had a decent story idea and some great threads on which to build a darker and more ominous story, though it missed the mark. The hunt may have been on, but it was as though everything was discovered in light and sunny weather. I hoped for chills and can only hope that Pritchard’s debut novel was jitters and that he has a lot more in him for the next novel in this series. I’ll give that one a try and hope for the best, as everyone with potential deserves a second chance.

Kudos, Mr. Pritchard, for the attempt, but I really hope there’s more to come. Delivery is essential in the genre and I am eager to see if you have it in you.

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