David's Reviews > Where Serpents Lie

Where Serpents Lie by T. Jefferson Parker
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's review
Apr 06, 2012

liked it

This is a truly frightening book. There are scenes is this book that make "Hannibal" seem like the kindly old Wizard of Oz. In fact, there are portions of this book that were more macabre than the special meals that Hannibal consumed or asked captured F.B.I. agents to consume. In other words, portions of this book are just plain gross.. in a scarey, tormented way.

Terry is head of the Orange County (Southern California) Crimes against Youth Division. He has suffered the loss of his only son in a drowning incident and is one of the saddest people you would ever meet. His life is full of drinking and cheating on his girl. The one redemptive element of his life is his work with the CAY division.

Terry and his unit is after a predator who sneaks into bedrooms and abducts little girls. The predator takes them to his den and changes them into old-fashioned little girl clothing and then releases them in isolated wilderness areas. No rape, but the CAY unit know that the profile shows he is building up to it.

Parker does a great job with the police work and the actual solving of the mystery and going after the bad guy. His hero, Terry, is sufficiently flawed, an element that seems to be pretty consistent in Parker's writings. And one of those flaws is some dark secret connected to his son's death. Along the way, Terry will be accused of horrible crimes, suspended from the force, and yet unable to stop his investigation into the seriel abductor.

Sadly, Parker slows the pacing a bit too much by letting us see the abductor's memories, his passions, his problems, a bit too much. About the time we want to see the investigation go forward, Parker wants us to see the horrible reality of this man's life, temperment, and torment. He fails to humanize the bad guy at all. Some of this insight and viewpoint is necessary to get to the really juicy, frightening part of the novel. However, at times, Parker dwells too much on the criminal's point of view and gives us a bit too much knowledge that would've been better coming out in investigation.

This was a really good book, I dinged it a star because its final conclusion was a bit unsatisfying. Terry gets the evidence he needs to prove who set him up for false charges, but doesn't do much about it. Instead, we get a further glimpse into Terry's torment and finally, the secret about his son's death, the one that the reader knew almost from the beginning was there, is revealed in an anti-climactic fashion...

A good book with some minor flaws... I do recommend it, despite the fact that I only give it three stars. I think fans of Hannibal Lector will enjoy this macabre mystery full of dark, sad, lonely, and hurting people. "Clarice, is that you?'
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