The Farren family has been a plague upon Philadelphia's most dangerous neighbourhood, the Devil's Pocket, for generations. There, row after row of tumbledown houses hide dark secrets - none darker than Billy, the youngest Farren.
Afflicted by a syndrome that means he can't recognise faces, Billy must use photographs to identify his family - and his victims. And when your life has bled away, he takes a final gruesome picture for his wall.
But what is the meaning of the horrific ritual Billy enacts with every murder? And is there any connection to a childhood event Detective Kevin Byrne has buried so well it's hidden even from his partner Jessica Balzano?
Shutter Man is Richard Montanari's latest thrilling book and has all the usual twists and turns you come to expect from such a seasoned crime writer. But what is nice to see in this latest bloody tale is how all the murders and Montanari's protagonist Detective Kevin Byrne are connected. The story begins in the 1970s in Devil's Pocket where teenager Kevin Byrne sees just how Devil's Pocket really gets its name.
Montanari paints the picture of each victim's lives before they are taken away, setting the scene and allowing the reader a chance to see what their lives are like. There are no obvious connections to any of these murders, but Montanari has included many puzzles and patterns. It is only when all these pieces are slotted together that we get to see the final picture. But not even then does Montanari draw the line: as he has one final piece to add to the puzzle.
Montanari has given so much background to the Farren family that the story can move back to the beginning when the Farren's move over from Ireland to settle in Philadelphia, and to when the Farren clan really began to make it's mark on Devil's Pocket. Montanari's characters are strong as are his description of the locations leading to an absorbing and riveting story. His use of puzzles and patterns make an interesting read and gives a psychological edge to the plot, which is fast paced, gripping and full of suspense.