8 IN THE BOX by Raffi Yessayan

Book Quote:

“She was alive when she was put in the bath?”
“I think so. There are other ways to drain a person of her blood, but the easiest way is to have the heart do the pumping for you.”
“So he puts his victims in the bathtub and slits their wrists. Are they incapacitated in any way? Unconscious maybe?”
“No trace of drugs in the blood.”
“So maybe he hits them over the head and knocks them out. Who knows? But whoever lost that blood is definitely dead, right?”
“Angel, I can’t say so with any scientific certainty, and this isn’t my specialty, but if that was Susan McCarthy’s blood in the tub, my guess is she’s dead.”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale (JUN 12, 2010)

New author Raffi Yessayan’s first book 8 in the Box is a solid legal thriller based in Boston, Massachusetts that is also a well done and enjoyable police procedural. With a mix of perspectives, Yessayan shows the thoughts of the homicide police detectives and the district attorneys as well as a serial killer that keeps the police busy looking for clues.

The book focuses on several young assistant district attorneys, with the lead being Conrad “Connie” Darget, somewhat more experienced than the other attorneys and one that is respected for his success by both his male and female co-workers. Connie also develops good relationships with the police and works to earn their trust when he visits crime scenes. This also helps him in assuring the cases he tries will be managed correctly in the field so he will be more successful in winning his cases.

Connie gets to work with two main homicide detectives, new detective Angel Alves and the more experienced Sergeant Detective Wayne Mooney. The two detectives certainly are challenged to solve what become a series of missing people whose blood is left behind in a bathtub of water. The “Blood Bath Killer” is careful to not leave any significant clues as the two detectives work tirelessly to solve the murder. Mooney’s continual press on the young Alves does lead to some stress in Alves’ family as the added hours often leave him unable to participate in family functions his wife Marcy plans. The story includes several twists along the way as the killer confuses the detectives with no clues and a mix of victims.

Although this book is mostly about finding the serial killer, Yessayan does spend a fair amount of time building the back story of the various characters, with an emphasis on the attorneys. This makes sense since Yessayan spent 11 years as a Boston assistant district attorney and he is obviously comfortable writing about these experiences even if fictional. Yessayan spends the most time on Connie Darget and his cases along with his relationship with law student Andi Norton. Andi spends too much time on the cases Connie gives her and this only leads to problems with her law classes. Other attorneys include Mitch Beaulieu, a sensitive African-American attorney who struggles with the many cases against African-Americans, and Nick Costa who is more interested in impressing women then in being prepared for his cases which he never seems to win.

Yessayan’s style in the book is to have many chapters (85 total) with each chapter in the perspective of one of several main characters. Since the book doesn’t really feature one main character, many different perspectives are presented; however, Yessayan does a very good job of making it clear from whose perspective that chapter is in and at no time did I feel confused. Although I wasn’t sure about this approach at the beginning, I think it worked and allowed to get into the minds of the key characters, including the killer Richter, thus allowing the reader to understand what was going on in the book. Of course, although you do learn more from being in the mind of the killer, Yessayan does not give the reader too much information too soon.

I’ve just started Raffi Yessayan’s second book, 2 in the Hat, a sequel to 8 in the Box. Many of the same characters are back and the same mix of perspectives with short chapters is in this book. I’m not sure I agree with the numbering approach of the book titles, especially since the numbers are not in order. I had to keep reminding myself to read the “8” book before the “2” book. I’d suggest Yessayan use a different approach if he continues the series since this will be nearly impossible to keep straight after a few books in the series.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 24 readers
PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books (March 23, 2010)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Raffi Yessayan
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

2 in the Hat


June 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, NE & New York, Sleuths Series

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