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Five    by Ursula Archer order for
by Ursula Archer
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Karin Slaughter calls Ursula Archer's Five 'a superior psychological thriller with twists at every level'. She got that right. I mostly figure out whodunit well before the ending but didn't see this one coming. It's very, very clever, set in and around Salzburg, Austria (source of my favorite Mozart kugeln chocolates) and with a troubled, highly intuitive heroine, Detective Inspector Beatrice Kaspary.

Beatrice's serial killer hunt begins with the discovery of a female corpse with map coordinates tattooed on the soles of the feet. Bea and her supportive partner Florin pursue the case and Florin also has her back when their mysoginistic boss Hoffman hassles her. Beatrice is now a single mother and her ex constantly harasses her about her poor (in his perception) mothering skills. The demands of a serial killer hunt will not help that situation.

Soon, Beatrice and Florin follow the tattoo clue to find that the killer is playing a game with them, 'a kind of modern treasure hunt using GPS' as he informs them in a note left with his first gruesome treasure of body parts. They discover that they are now geocaching and start to learn a lot about outdoor scavenger hunt hobbyists as further victims show up. But what could this activity possibly have to do with their serial killer?

When Bea contacts the killer directly, it becomes personal and she finally hears the motivation for these brutal slaughters direct from the horse's mouth. Unfortunately, the killer blames the police as much as his victims; readers wonder will Beatrice and those she cares most for make it? Five is an outstanding thriller and I hope we will read more of Detective Inspector Beatrice Kaspary, the sooner the better!

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