The Thief of All Light

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

Full review to come.
I deeply apologize, but life is a handful lately and I'm using all my free time to read, not review. I hope everybody understands.
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The Thief of All Light by Bernard Schaffer
Santero and Rein #1

Murder mysteries with serial killers are not uncommon but this one is uncommonly good. After starting to read I could not put it down. The Santero – Rein team had the rookie wannabe detective eventually teaming up with an older scarred detective no longer on the police force and the two together was one that I “got” and enjoyed watching. The serial killer was devoid of humanity and if there was anything that I might have liked to see more of it would have been his backstory but…sometimes it doesn’t really matter what the backstory is as no matter what it was it would not justify the deeds perpetrated. 

The idea that evil is dark, might have a face, is alive, can see and pull on a person and that doors are involved to let it in or keep it out…not really personification…but the way it was presented here resonated with me. The fact that good people may have to access that evil to find and put away evil people and the impact it can have on the ones that capture such evil was also interesting and resonated. 

Carrie Santero is relatively new on the job and her boss often sees her more as a daughter than a rookie cop. Her boss, Bill Waylon, is strong and fair and a great person to act as her leader. They get along well and seem to see eye to eye though sometimes he is more friend than boss. There are a few more interesting characters in the detective section that no doubt will appear again in future books…as will perhaps Thome – son of Rein who calls Waylon “uncle”. And then, there is Jacob Rein. Rein and Waylon were once partners who put away a heinous serial killer. Rein has dropped off the radar for a number of years but is pulled in again when a serial killer appears that takes Carries best friend Molly and Molly’s daughter captive. From that point on there is a race to the finish that may or may not be what the reader hopes for. 

Did I like this book? Definitely
Would I like to read more in this series? Of course
Is this a new-to-me author I will read again? Without a doubt

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

5 Stars
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This thriller was fast paced and action packed!  The author did a good job of providing a lot of action to this book without sacrificing the quality of the plot or characters.
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Meet Carrie Santero -a hungry, young, female detective taken under the wing of an older, experienced Chief Bill Waylon. Now I know we can usually change the names and the story is the same. Not this time. Bernard Schaffer has been writing and indie-publishing for years. Honing his craft. Surrounding himself by the most respected writers today. He has also worked in law enforcement. Allowing himself to sit face to face with the worst of the worst. Society hears the carefully worded news reports so often we have become nearly immune to what defines true, pure, evil. But the officers, out there in the muck, following the sickening clues that lead to the bad guy, they have not become immune . . . They are affected. I would dare to almost go so far as to say infected by the demented cruelty the "subject" has inflicted upon their victims and the chaos left behind for the families. Schaffer has taken that knowledge, his understanding of a tortured officer and woven it, oh so carefully, into his character, Jacob Rein. Rein's has a history that only begins to unfold half-way through the book.

The first part of the book is dedicated to really getting to know Carrie. She's the definition of a daddy's girl. She loves her best friend Molly and her daughter, who they lovingly call Nubs. She and Molly have spats like high school girls from time to time because to put it in Molly's words - "she has needs." Carrie has an insatiable appetite for profiling. She's read every book she can get her hands on. Once, she even contacted Charles Mason. She endures a great deal of ribbing, nasty references to her female genitalia, and slimy utterings of how she earns promotions. But she often leaves her fellow officers gape-jawed with her own smart-assy retorts. (You go girl!) She works her fair share of blah-blah-boring incidents, then the bodies start piling up at the morgue.

Could there be more than one psychopath in their rural Pennsylvania town? Or is one subject recreating the crimes of history's most notorious serial killers? With clues that seem to lead nowhere, Chief Waylon knows exactly where they need to go. Making contact with Jacob Rein is one thing, getting him to help is another. Rein described as the best of the best, brilliant, and dedicated looked into the abyss once too often. The ugliness and evil got to him. Then he was involved in an auto accident that killed a young girl. Although he was not at fault, the Father was, Rein pled guilty and did a stint in prison. He is a tortured soul residing within the shell of a once well-respected detective. Now working day to day, living a homeless, rootless, solitary existence.
But, Carrie, on the brink of a meltdown, is not willing to take no for answer and doesn't allow Rein to simply walk away.

The second half of the book is filled with Carrie and Jacob searching for a killer or killers. The emotional attachment between Carrie and Molly adds a layer to the story that's often missing in suspense novels. Schaffer did an excellent job building that relationship, let us have fun and relax a little with those scenes. Because of the crimes, I hate to say that I enjoyed reading this book, but those who love suspense/thrillers, true crime, or TV shows and documentaries will understand exactly what I mean. Schaffer's characters are three-dimensional and filled with personality. Carrie is a strong female trying to claim her position in a predominately male environment. Reading about her is both interesting and fun. Chief Waylon is the father-figure type. Even-tempered (most of the time), knows his stuff and is willing to share his vast knowledge with an up-and-coming detective. Then there's Jacob Rein. While I like the fallen ex-detective aspect, the reasoning for his traumatized state and self-inflicted punishment is ludicrous. I really wish Schaffer had given Rein a different back-story. I felt this weakened Rein's credibility, intelligence, and strength as a character. Especially with the "poor me" repetition. On more than occasion, I just wanted to scream at him!

Scenes are written with pin-point description, There's no waste of words or fluffing. The author gives the reader just what we need to picture what is going on and keeps moving forward. Although the pacing feels relaxed, as I turned every three or four pages, I could feel it building, quickening, urging me to keep reading. The clues are carefully disguised, causing me to rethink what was happening. The ending, while everything comes together, forming a complete picture, it felt incomplete. Rushed maybe. It just didn't fit with the first half of the book. It felt as though a lot of heart was penned in the first 50-60% of the story. Then the remaining pages were hastily configured and stapled in.

At 276 pages The Thief of All Light is a fast read that can easily be devoured in one afternoon or evening. I enjoyed the author's voice and appreciate the real-world experience he threaded into the story. I, personally could have lived without the vulgarities, but there again, realism. The characters are interesting and the author has me invested in Carrie's life. I will most certainly read any follow up to this book.

Happy Reading,

RJ
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I just could not get into this book.  It was extremely well written but the story was just average for me.  I think the rookie cop and the seasoned professional storyline is a bit overdone now.  I really thought this would be my kind of book-  a killer that modelled himself on famous serial killers.  But it just wasn't for me, although I see that plenty of people have enjoyed this book.  Maybe just not the right time for me to read it.

thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book.  All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
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Well done serial killer thriller.  I liked Carrie, who definitely is over her head with this case, and Jacob, who comes back to help her.  While the basic plot line is not surprising, Schaffer makes good use of his law enforcement background and does well with the characters. My quibble with this, as with some others in the genre, is that things go a little far.  At the same time, however, he did keep me turning pages.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I'm curious where the series will go, given how it has started off.
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The Thief of All Light
by Bernard Schaffer
4 stars for this thriller! many thanks to the author and publisher who provided a copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review.
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I liked this novel even though it  felt like it was  2 books  in one. I recommend it for those who like  character based mysteries.  I hope the author turns it into a series.
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The rookie female cop teaming up with an older traumatized male detective to solve crimes is a formula done to death both in tv and books.  The only thing setting these stories apart now is the quality. And here the quality is definitely present, mainly in form of a particular authenticity the author brings from his work as a police officer. Actually it’s quite impressive how many books he has written considering his occupation, but then again some manage their time more optimally than others. So this is your basic serial killer procedural thriller, not a mystery because you know the killer, but there is a certain amount of suspense as Santero and Rein are rushing to beat the clock and apprehend him. Not just any killer, an omnikiller, someone who tries to emulate other well known serial killers’ techniques.  Santero is the rookie, Rein the gruff older former detective living his life as a way of serving out a penance for a crime he committed. She offers him a chance to redeem himself, he offers her his expertise. Voila. Crime solved. The setting is Podunk PA, because middle of nowhere is the best place for someone to hide their sociopathic tendencies, although apparently there’s still a library. What is it with killers and libraries? Hadn’t Se7en covered that territory? Santero  and her kindly protective chief of police and her white trash bff alone weren’t compelling enough, but once Rein showed the book picked up significantly and from then on it moves along swimmingly, well paced, expertly detailed and with some very lively realistic dialogue. Nothing particularly stunning or original, just a formula done well, but that’s pretty good in and of itself and provided some seriously decent entertainment. Also seriously graphic at times too, so proceed with caution. Anyone in the mood for a cops chasing serial killer story would enjoy this. Decent introduction to what’s likely to be a new series. I’m not into series, so I’ll just think of this as a standalone, since technically book #1 nearly always is. Thanks Netgalley.
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As a teen, Carrie Santero harbored an obsession for serial killers, the nastier the better, but all that changed when she came face to face with that same type of evil. Now, Carrie is a cop trying to make her way up to detective, she wants to catch these human monsters and put them behind bars forever. She gets her chance right away, with an unbelievably nasty killer, who mimics some of history’s most notorious serial killers. He’s so diverse and uses so many different m.o.’s, he’s impossible to profile and has been dubbed an “omni” killer. The only hope of catching him is bringing former detective, Jacob Rein, a brilliant but tortured detective on board. Schaffer is a cop, and it shows in his writing (I’m married to a cop), he knows the language, the politics, the graveyard humor and the stress these officers face. And he’s created one of the scariest killers I’ve ever read about
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