A woman has been kidnapped and murdered. Pieces of her start showing up across the country to seemingly random people; but with specific, cryptic notes for each recipient. A ready-to-retire, once world-famous journalist has a front-row seat to the case, having received a note of his own to pursue the story and try to solve the mystery. Some parts have been reported, some lost forever, and with them, possibly the identity of the Hangman murderer.
Pieces by Michael Aloisi and Rebecca Rowland is a story about, well… pieces. Pieces of Julie Piedmont are showing up across the country sent by the murderer tagged as the Hangman by the media. Not only did the Hangman send the body parts to a seemingly random selection of people, but he also sent a very specific letter to the journalist Jackson Matthews (Jax); once world renown investigative journalist, now riding out his time until his retirement at a small Milwaukee press. The letter is from Jax’s “biggest fan” and gives Jax specific details about the crime including pictures. A special detective assigned to the case confronts him, but Jax soon realizes that this detective is not who he claims to be. While on the case, Jax begins to put the “pieces” together and thinks he cracked the case. With the murderer behind bars, Jax begins to have second thoughts about if the guy he helped bring down was the actual Hangman murderer.
While Jackson is hunting for clues, people around the country are receiving plain packages with their names and addresses typed on them with no return address. Inside these packages, wrapped in butchers’ paper are the pieces of Julie Piedmont. Her tongue. The lower leg. Her ring finger; the little toe. 30 packages delivered to seemingly random people, but with specific, cryptic notes. Most of the pieces are reported. Some are destroyed, lost, or forgotten due to some simultaneous tragedy. Those that are lost may hide the identity of the killer or may close the book on the man charged with the crimes.
I enjoyed this one. The authors did a wonderful job with character development and getting into the head of everyone involved; not only Jackson and Dennis but also the folks that received the pieces of Julie. They took the time to delve into characters that only show up for a chapter but they still flesh them out significantly. The story jumps from character to character between chapters, but the continuity of the story isn’t jarred or lost as it is in some stories I’ve read, and it doesn’t slow the pace of the story at all. From the beginning when Dennis is stalking Julie until the end, Pieces was a page-turner that didn’t disappoint.
The only thing I would have like to know, and maybe this was intentional, is how the killer knew what to send each person. The notes seem to be very specific for each recipient. Maybe the notes seem specific because that is how the person interpreted the notes. Maybe the notes were not directed toward the recipient at all, but because of the character development, they just took the notes personally. It doesn’t take away from the story at all, if anything it adds to the mystery of why the Hangman would hand-select these people to be a part of his game.
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