book review

In Concert With Death by John A. Buckley

cover109676-mediumA young adult begins a series of murders that gets the attention of the FBI’s most senior investigators. The serial killer challenges the retiring Feds as they have never been before. They do all possible to stop the kill spree that mostly happens at music events. He’s creative, intelligent, daring, and adventurous as he kills in ways that take the FBI team to their limits again and again. No one knows when, where, or how he will kill. All anyone knows is that he will kill again. Chasing a genius is always difficult, but doing it through crowded rock concerts is an exceptional challenge.  Both killer and law enforcement have to be exceptionally creative to stay a part of this most deadly chase.


*Copy was made available by the publisher, First Edition Design Publishing, via NetGalley for a review.

I saw In Concert With Death at NetGalley’s Read Now shelf and I was immediately attracted by the interesting blurb. It looks like a challenging case and I wonder how the author will spin the story. Although it gets a few lows, I am not disappointed.

There is a serial killer on the loose whose preying on concert-goers. Not only that but the victims also happens to be young achievers. What’s more perplexing is that the killer is using an unusual method to kill his victims: by injecting them poisons. Uncommon poisons like ricin and deadly snake venom to name a few. They immediately deduced that the killer is someone who is smart enough to use such method and to do it in a crowded place without any worry of being caught. Add to that the fact that the poisons he had used need an extensive analysis for it to be detected on the toxicology test.

John Joseph Gallagher and Richard Laughlin are partners and the one assigned to the concert killing case. Both are close to retiring, they are also one of the best agents the FBI have. Gallagher is a 65-year-old agent who served in Vietnam and should probably retire already but having no wife (3 wives died of cancer!) and kids, he decided to stick around since he doesn’t know what he’ll do when he quit anyway. Rick, on the other hand, is not as good in field work as Gallagher but he is good at putting clues together.

But even if they are considered veterans on their job, they are still alarmed at how daring their suspect can be. They are even more disturbed when they found out that the killer is a young adult, too, barely out of high school. How could someone so young be capable of such crimes? The more they know about the case, the more confused they get and more questions pile-up. As they discovered more victims, and as much as they are certain of who the suspect is, they can’t still find a solid evidence to tie him up with the murders to prosecute him. The killer is so damn smart to leave a trail and make a mistake. Everything he does is calculated and well-planed. Each death at his wake brought terror to the law enforcers. The killer continues to challenge them in ways they’ve never seen before. How could they catch him when every time they try, he seems to know what they are about to do, always one step ahead even with the most brilliant agents?

In Concert with Death have a really great plot. It is also full of suspense but not much of a mystery since the killer was identified early on. From then on, it is just about a matter of catching him, trying to one-up the elusive suspect. I like how the author came up with the idea of using concerts as the venue for killing and so is the method. It is perfectly unique and really challenging. The chase in trying to catch the killer is something that is fascinating to read. You can tell that Mr. Buckley is someone who’s not only knowledgeable about the process but also someone who’s familiar with it and then some under his belt.

The killer is what intrigues me the most. You have to wonder how a young man who’s evidently very intelligent can be capable of such crimes and what push him to do it in the first place. His guts and courage to go up against dozens of agents and policemen and still not get caught are quite impressive. It seems unrealistic but it was specified how he managed to dodge all the attempts to catch him. His uncanny ways make him a scary adversary.  Such a shame that someone that smart is wasting his life away.

But though, this is one exciting read, I have some issues that I can’t get passed on. I am not a fan of the author’s writing style. There were a lot of times I have to go back on a page or two so I can know who is in the conversation because the speakers are not indicated. And most of the time, it is confusing and it breaks the momentum. I was surprised on how on the first page, the killings are already announced without any build-up and it is a wonder the author managed to stretch the story into 300 and more pages. Which can also be attributed by some instances where when something happens, a character will tell the story again to someone in complete detail. So, you get to read said story twice. I pretty much just scan the pages when that happens. No need to relieve what happens 5 pages before.

I was also disappointed how everything revolves around the law enforcers trying to catch the serial killer. It would be nice to know more about Gallagher’s personal life or how he is outside his job. Although the last couple of chapters did just that, I still wasn’t able to get around knowing Gallagher. One more thing is how it ends. Not the case, I am very much satisfied with how the chase ended. What I mean is how the author stretched the story after closing the case. I really think that it was not necessary, but it is just my opinion.

I may have a lot of issues on In Concert with Death but I still enjoyed the thrill and suspense that it offers, which is what the book is about in the first place. I’d still say it is a solid read and I won’t have second thoughts on recommending it to people who love them some suspense and thrill. 

RATING: 3.5/5



(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of NetGalley)

Purchase it on In Concert With Death

Purchase it on In Concert With Death

Purchase it on In Concert With Death


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