Blurb from B&N:
San Francisco, 1906. The great West Coast city is a center of industry and excitement–and also, to many, of sin. When the Great Earthquake hits, some believe it is the day of reckoning for the immoral masses.
Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Shane Nightingale is witness to the violent deaths of his adoptive mother and sisters–not from the earthquake, but at the hands of a serial killer. As Shane wanders the city appearing to be just another anonymous orphan, he keeps what he has seen a secret. But when his path crosses that of Sergeant Randall Blackburn, who is in pursuit of the killer, the two become an investigative team that will use both a youth’s intuitive gifts and a policeman’s new deductive techniques and crime-fighting tools to unmask a vicious murderer whose fury can be as intense as that of Mother Nature herself.
This is the second of Flacco's novels I have read featuring Blackburn, Shane, and his sister, Vignette, (read my review of The Hidden Man), but it was actually written first, and introduces us to his trio of characters. My review of The Hidden Man was for an official review site, so I had to be quite proper and reserved in my praise - since this is my own blog, I can gush if I want to, and gush I shall.
I LOVE this series!! Anthony Flacco is a master at writing interesting, believable characters AND exciting, nailbiting mysteries. Since I read the books in backwards order, I had an idea of the relationships that would be built between the three main characters, but it was fun to read about how those relationships started, and Flacco does such a good job of making the relationships seem authentic. His ability to paint pictures with words really makes his scenes come to life, because I felt like I could literally see everything that was happening as I was reading.
Flacco is the type of novelist that makes me remember why I love mysteries - nothing seems rote or by-the-book, even though a sexually confused guy murdering women has, quite honestly, been written before. But again, his ability to make each character interesting and believable lifts his novels from the normal, run-of-the-mill crime novel. And his core trio of Blackburn, Shane, and Vignette are amazing - each is so completely alive. I still can't decide which I like the most, because they are all so full and complex in their own right.
I am not sure I can express enough how much I love reading his books. I have not been able to determine whether or not he plans to continue this series, so I'm offering up a personal plea:
Mr. Flacco, please, don't stop now!
I think this novel will appeal to historical fiction fans, to mystery fans - really, I think everyone should just read it! =)