Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a review of "Damaged" [90]

Damaged by Pamela Callow
Mira, ISBN 978-0778327509
June 1, 2010, 464 pages

Still riddled with guilt about the death of her sister years ago, still afraid that people will find out about the criminal history of her father, Kate Lange is starting a new job at a prestigious Halifax law firm and with it she is hoping to turn a new page in her life. Promised by one of the partners who brought her into the firm that she would be able to work on the civil ligation cases that she craves, she is disappointed to find herself still stuck in what she sees as the female ghetto of family law cases. But she wants to prove she is a team player, so when managing partner Randell Barrett asks her to talk to a grandmother about a possible custody case involving her troubled granddaughter, Kate reluctantly agrees. She tells the woman there is nothing she can legally do, but when the girl first disappears and then turns up dead, Kate wonders if she did all she could have to prevent this tragic outcome.

Now, with a cloud hanging over her professional life, especially when it turns out the dead girl's mother is a very powerful judge, a personal cloud enters in the person of Ethan Drake, the police detective assigned to investigate the death...because he also happens to be Kate's ex-fiance. And the engagement did not end in a very nice way.
Another body of a young girl turns up, horribly mutilated as was the first, and police realize they may have a serial killer on their hands, a killer labeled the Body Butcher. When there seems to be some ties to a civil case that Kate is involved in, she starts following up a few leads of her own, a path that may lead her too into the bloody hands of thr Butcher.

In many ways this debut novel of Pamela Callow follows a rather predicable path. At times when I was reading it I felt that I had read this story before. A bit of legal thriller, a bit of serial killer, all topped off with a dash of romance and, at times, seemingly a bit confused as to which it was.
But, for a couple of reasons this book rises above the tried and true formula. First of all, it is well written, always a very good thing, I am sure you would agree. There are also some good characters, some, not all. Kate does get rather annoying and whiny at times. In fact, she is probably one of my least favorite characters, which is a problem since this is the first in a forthcoming series with her as the star. On the other hand, she has a wonderful dog, a white husky named Alaska who redeemed his owner in my eyes. A great dog goes a long way for me. Then there is that managing partner, Mr. Barrett, who it seems is being set up as a romantic interest for Kate in the future. Well, I assume so, even if his behavior and his thoughts that we share about Kate were more like lust than love and bordering on being quite creepy. Can anyone say potential sexual harassment case?

One other thing that made this a little more interesting than the average thriller for me was the setting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have been to Halifax several times and it is a nice city with a beautiful harbor. I hope in future installments, the author shares even more of the charm and beauty of the city with us. I think a great location, well presented, can really anchor a series

All in all, an entertaining thriller that surprising rises above a rather predictable formula.

My thanks to the author and Mira for a copy of this book.


  1. Seems like quite a few plot threads? I don't like too many to keep track of. But I'm with you on the setting and the dog. Those two aspects of a story can do alot for my overall opinion!

  2. If the author has to throw in a romance line in a thriller, why do they make the character creepy?

    The setting definitely makes a book more appealing. I just read Bury your Dead by Louise Penny and her Quebec setting had me right there mentally. Fantastic book although it is a spoiler for her previous book, A Brutal Telling. If you haven't read either of these, be sure to read A Brutal Telling first.

  3. Sandy...I think there may have been a few too many pans heating on the fire. Sometimes less is better.

    Kaye, I am not sure he was meant to be as creepy as I thought he was. I did read The Brutal Telling...although oddly it seems I never wrote a review. Ooops! Bad Caite.
    Since Bury Your Dead is not out yet, I guess you were lucky enough to get an ARC.

  4. So I guess we need to add redeeming dog characters to your list of "must haves." : )

  5. I think you're right about setting anchoring a book, especially a series; I love it when the setting is almost a character in and of itself. The book sounds like a good page turner to me :-)


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