Pattern of Wounds by J. Mark Bertrand

Reviewed by Nike Chillemi –

I was so looking forward to getting my hands on J. Mark Bertrand’s PATTERN OF WOUNDS, the second in the Roland March series. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It’s Christmas in Houston, TX, but don’t be fooled. This is not your typical jingle bells and deck the halls Christmas who dun it.

March is investigating a series of murders characterized by a certain pattern of knife wounds. The bodies of attractive women have been brutally stabbed and theatrically positioned. In addition, these current murders are eerily reminiscent of a murder committed by a man March put behind bars ten years ago. Did March arrest the wrong man years ago, or do they now have a copycat killer?

To further complicate things, March starts getting taunting emails from the killer. This cruelly demented killer is making it personal and forcing March to deal with his complicated and painful past. On September 11, 2011, he solved the original murder investigation that mirrors this one. That awful and infamous day was also the date when a drunk driver killed his only daughter. The new investigation becomes even more personal when March’s wife is brutally attacked in their home. In this novel, just as in the first, nonbelieving March wrestles with the question how could a loving God let brutality like this happen.

In this novel, March is in a healthier frame of mind than in book one. He’s more adept now at handling the sordid side of life his job forces him to deal with. His marriage is in better shape, though he’s not at all sure he likes his wife’s new found faith. The characters are well developed and have depth. March and his wife are an ordinary couple who face true-to-life situations and have realistic problems.

Internal police politics is about the same as in the first novel, a complicated minefield. The original serial killer gets wind of this new case and starts and appeal. A police officer in another jurisdiction tries to further his own career by making it look as if March bungled the original case. Of course, March’s superiors don’t back him up, but instead lean toward the other officer’s theory. In addition, a true crime writer betrays March in an attempt to get a crack at putting out a best seller.

This is a fascinating read, a true thriller-chiller. The reader has a sense of foreboding. Something horrific could happen to the main characters at any time. There is a race against time before the killer strikes again. Bertrand weaves a fine murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

About Nike Chillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of ACFW and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers on Ning. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 and a Carol Awards 2011 judge, She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction.


2 Responses to “Pattern of Wounds by J. Mark Bertrand”
  1. Thanks for the heads-up, Nike. I really enjoyed the first book in this series, too, and look forward to this second installment.

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