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The Murder Notebook    by Jonathan Santlofer order for
Murder Notebook
by Jonathan Santlofer
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The Murder Notebook, Jonathan Santlofer brings back my favorite of his characters - police sketch artist Nate Rodriguez and NYPD Detective Terri Russo. As always, Santlofer (a talented and well recognized artist in his own right) includes intriguing drawings - by his forensic artist protagonist as well as weird ones by several perps that provide clues to the mystery.

Nate is an unusual character, with both Jewish and Puerto Rican grandmothers (the latter a kind of neighborhood priestess who warns him early in this episode that he's on a crooked path he must follow to the end), and a mystery in his childhood related to the death of his father, who was an undercover cop. Nate has always felt guilt over his dad's death. Last seen in Anatomy of Fear Terri is now in charge of a task force investigating what seem to be random killings in the city. The romance that developed between Terri and Nate in their previous adventure has matured into a committed relationship, that is greatly stressed this time around.

As The Murder Notebook begins, Nate is asked to take on a sculptural reconstruction of a skull from a John Doe murder victim, and also to assist Terri with her investigation. He has some sort of psychic talent, that allows him to draw unusually accurate pictures of perps based on his interviews of witnesses. His mother Judy, who visits Nate and Terri this time, contributes her expertise on post-traumatic stress disorder in Gulf War veterans to the case. Gradually, Nate pieces together the puzzle of a series of murder-suicides, linking them to a (long since shut down) DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) project.

Nate is attacked more than once and interrogated and threatened by two bureau agents, but persists down this crooked path to the very end, fortunately for someone very close to him. As a bonus, he receives a welcome absolution and closure on father's death. Don't miss The Murder Notebook - this series is a winner and I look forward to spending more time with Nate Rodriguez and Terri Russo.

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