Portraits of the Dead – John Nicholl


Portraits of the Dead can be bought now from Amazon here

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…

When Emma awakens in total darkness, she is aware of her nakedness. Injuries. A bed not her own. A blindingly bright light suddenly pierces the blackness and a disembodied male voice calls her “Venus”. Venus – the goddess of love, beauty, sex and desire. He says she is “Venus Six”. What does this predator want from her? Can she outwit the masked man who demands to be called “Master”? Or will he be looking for Venus Seven?

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

Previous books by John Nicholl reviewed: White is the Coldest Colour and When Evil Calls Your Name

Thanks to John Nicholl for my review copy of Portraits of the Dead.

My thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the latest novel by John Nicholls. Following on from the successful and impressive White is the Coldest Colour and When Evil Calls Your Name, there is Portraits of the Dead. For those of us partial to a bit of graphic serial killer drama, look no further.

Someone has been getting away with murder. The police start to uncover the truth about a serial killer in their midst. Five women have been at the mercy of evil, selected and tortured by a psychopath. Can Detective Inspector Gravel track him down? The killer has taken a young university student captive. She is locked in a sound proofed room, awaiting her fate. Emma gradually adjusts to her surroundings and to the evil ‘Master’ controlling her life. Can Emma outwit him or will she be the next victim? Will Gravel get to the truth in time?

The drama starts off well, with a teenage girl kidnapped from her bed and at the mercy of a psychopath. As the police discover the other victims, we get a real sense of anticipation. What will this monster do? Will Emma run out of time? However it seemed to become less convincing as the drama progressed. In my opinion, it needed a little extra something to give it added darkness and realism. I needed to fear the monster. I needed to feel as sick as I do, when I read Chris Carter’s novels. The interaction between the serial killer and his mother felt contrived. She made me stop believing in the killer. The ending was unexpected, but worked very much for me. I was cheering!

Overall I was disappointed by Portraits of the Dead, after reading John Nicholl’s previous novels. It just missed the spot for me, in terms of believe-ability and horror. I will leave you to judge for yourselves.




About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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