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Roberts, Mark - 'The Sixth Soul'
Hardback: 368 pages (Feb. 2013) Publisher: Atlantic Books ISBN: 0857897861

A pregnant woman disappears from her home. She is feared to be the latest victim of a killer that the newspapers call Herod, the fifth victim. After a period of time, the bodies of the mothers have been found showing confusing evidence of death, but their unborn babies have been removed surgically from their bodies. The children have not been found.

Detective Chief Inspector David Rosen and Detective Sergeant Carol Bellwood are investigating and with this latest missing person they seem as far away from catching the killer as the first. Searching for the means of entry to the house, the detectives find that the seemingly derelict house next door holds a vital clue, the first that has the potential for identifying the killer. There seems there may be a chance to find the missing woman and her unborn child alive.

The case is particularly poignant for Rosen since the sudden death of his only child, from which his wife has not recovered. Rosen's immediate superior, Chief Superintendent Baxter clearly shows his lack of faith in Rosen's ability and tries to undermine him in every way possible and gets members of Rosen's team to spy on him.

Rosen is contacted and informed that a Father Sebastian, living in a monastically community in Kent, has information that might help. Father Sebastian refers to information about the latest missing woman that has not been released which he states he knows because the killings are copies of ancient murders detailed in a book about Alessio Capaneus who died in the thirteenth century. Rosen starts to research this potential information but his scepticism about its usefulness remains and he continues with other lines of enquiry.

The subject matter might be disturbing to some people especially since it includes the killing of pregnant women and some of the scenes are quite graphically drawn.

THE SIXTH SOUL is the author's first novel for adults and I found it an uncomfortable read but quite compelling.

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Susan White, England
March 2013

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 10/11/2013 13:29