A killer who writes poetry and leaves “presents” of his victims’ hearts on the graves of suicides brings FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast to Miami, but with a handicap to his usual methodology. Pendergast’s tendencies to ignore procedure and go rogue have led the new Assistant Director of the New York office, Pickett, to assign loner Pendergast a partner.
Agent Coldmoon, a capable agent with issues of his own, has secret orders to try and prevent Pendergast from deviating from FBI procedure, but finds instead that he agrees with his new partner’s more outlandish methods and theories, especially when they begin producing results.
Mr. Brokenhearts, the serial killer’s non de plume, leads the agents on a merry chase through several states as the agents try to find connections between the current victims and the older deaths, which are proven to not be suicides after all but murders, before the murderer can strike again.
Old fans of the series will be bemused and delighted to be introduced to the brother of NY Times crime reporter Bill Smithback, Roger, a local reporter who seems determined to follow in his brother’s footsteps when he recognizes Pendergast at a crime scene. Bill Smithback was a friend of Pendergast who became involved with and even assisted the agent on several cases, in a number of different books in the series, before his murder during an investigation. Roger’s character plays a minor role in this book, but his appearance raises the question; will he appear again?
Verses for the Dead will delight readers with a dramatic climax that includes a battle through a swamp swarming with alligators, and a surprising twist to the serial killer’s story that appears in a late chapter. The action doesn’t stop till the very last page, and leads to a satisfying conclusion.
While this particular volume contains only the barest hints of the paranormal as is present in several of the other books in this series, I’m happy to see that eighteen books in, with several spinoffs, the authors are still producing storylines and characters that are exciting, entertaining, and completely fresh with each new novel. I award this book five stars and recommend it to fans of detectives and heroes ranging from Sherlock Holmes to Jason Bourne.