It’s unusual for me to be playing series catch up with Mandie, but I’m finally sharing my thoughts on The Embalmer, book three in the Sullivan and Mullins series by Alison Belsham. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Has the ancient Egyptian cult of immortality resurfaced in Brighton?
When a freshly-mummified body is discovered at the Brighton Museum of Natural History, Detective Francis Sullivan is at a loss to identify the desiccated woman. But as Egyptian burial jars of body parts with cryptic messages attached start appearing, he realises he has a serial killer on his hands. Revenge, obsession and an ancient religion form a potent mix, unleashing a wave of terror throughout the city. Caught in a race against time while battling his own demons, Francis must fight to uncover the true identity of the Embalmer before it’s too late…
What I love about this series is that you are always guaranteed to have a story which is not only completely gripping and entertaining, but you. are treated to completely original murders that border on the macabre without needing to resort to being overly gratuitous. Don’t get me wrong, there is no denying that very dark and twisted nature of the killer in this particular story, but we are not forced to live through the violence, more to sit in shock at the audacity of the killer when presented with the results of their kill. There is a definite tendency towards the theatrical, the spectacle of how they leave their victims and the nature of what they do, but also the knowledge, from very early on, that this is also a very personal crusade.
I always wonder just how Alison Belsham will top the book before when she starts to write. Each one has been unique, inventive, dark and so jam packed with tension and compelling storytelling that i find myself racing through them in a matter of hours, never any question that I am going to walk away and do something else in between times. This time around our killer has an obsession with ancient Egypt, and their ideas of both life and chaos, presenting his first kill as a fully mummified body, taking readers through the absolute artistry of the preparation as a means to ease us in to the action. From here on in the kills escalate, less theatrical in presentation but no less shocking in execution or final result. there is a clear message being given, one which readers may be able to decipher far quicker than the police, treated as we are to the killers perspective, but it makes the story no less exciting as we power towards a very tense and action filled showdown.
It’s not only the eponymous Embalmer who raises the tension this time around, things looking pretty bleak for Marni this time around as the tension between her, her husband Thierry and this brother, Paul, reaches a very dramatic and tragic conclusion. I love that this series brings the personal lives of Marni and sullivan front and centre every bit as much as the central investigation, the chemistry and friendship between the pair undeniable, even if circumstances dictate it is never quite their time. The whole side story adds pace and jeopardy to an already intense story, but just made me turn the pages even faster, whilst bringing that chapter of Marni’s ife to a head.
It’s clear that the story marks a turning point in the series and I’ll be intrigued to see where the author takes it next, whenever that might be. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Marni and Sullivan, and love the dark nature of the stories that Alison Belsham serves us. Another intense and inventive offering and definitely recommended.
About the Author
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner.