Book Review: Portraits of the Dead

Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl is quite haunting and seriously freaked me out at times. But in the way that a true crime podcast or an episode of Law and Order: SVU would, ya know? The story focuses on a serial killer who has kidnapped a young 19-year-old girl and has her locked in some unknown room. He forces her to call him Master, plays tricks on her, abuses her mentally and physically, and sometimes dresses as a clown when he does so. SOLD.

The writing style of this book is so clear and easy to follow. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was turning the pages and how I barely looked up at all while reading. I read this in only two sittings because I literally could not put it down. I had to know just what twisted scheme, conversation, or action was going to take place between the serial killer and his recent victim. I had to know what the cops were going to uncover, if anything. And I had to see just how everything was going to unfold. Did the girl get abducted at random? What’s the motive? Did she know her abductor? There are all kinds of questions that raced through my mind on this one.

The serial killer/abductor, y’all! Seriously a twisted psychopath. He is not continuously disgusting and shocking, but the few moments that he does something of note like that will stick with me for quite some time. I can’t tell you how many people I mentioned one scene to and their reactions were all, “OMG! What kind of books do you READ?!” It’s true. I guess I may be a little messed up because I actually enjoyed how dark, dirty, and twisted a few scenes were (purely from an entertainment aspect! I am not in the game of emulating said psycho!)

This book also hits on a lot of my own personal fears, and some that I believe a lot of people have in common: feeling vulnerable in your own home, being abducted, clowns, bugs, physical and emotional abuse, the works. I think we can all connect with the victim and would strive to be like her if we were unknowingly slung into her situation.

I enjoyed the dialogue in this book quite a bit. I never had a hard time with believability or credibility. The author did a great job of having purposeful dialogue: not too wordy and flowery but at the same time quite informative and to the point.

Overall I am going to give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I found it exceedingly entertaining and haunting at the same time. Can’t wait to read more from John Nicholl if this is the kind of thing he writes about and if his style Is consistent book to book! Thank you to NetGalley and Bloohound Books for sending me this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

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