A playboy lawyer plunges from the roof of a Boston hotel. A Rhode Island strip club owner is found dead in pool of his own vomit. Both men were spotted, shortly before their deaths, with a mysterious woman who left behind a trail of filterless cigarettes, purple lipstick, and French perfume. And both men helped perpetrate an incident, years earlier, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in which an angry group of five flipped the car of a criminally negligent driver, leaving the kid behind the wheel disfigured and brain damaged.
To any outside observer, the two deaths seem like isolated incidents, even accidents. But Boston homicide cop-on-the-rise Marina Papanikatis can’t shake the gnawing feeling that there’s a more sinister force at play. Eager, dogged, and determined to prove her worth, Papanikatis realizes that not only are these murders linked, they’re merely the tip of the iceberg in one vengeful femme fatale’s plot to systematically eliminate every last member of the original Dorchester Five.
Worldbuilding: The Boston setting is interesting, with the hit and run spiraling out into a lot of tension.
Characters: Nightingale is charming and funny, and a killer. Her fascination with noir made her a very interesting character, out on her vendetta for reasons we’re in the dark about for a good bit of the story. It gives an extra air of mystery to this femme fatale that is determined to off her targets – on top of that, she has a French accent. The blend of cold-blooded killer and passionate (and slightly unhinged) woman caring in a very personal way to the sick is for sure a stroke (no pun intended) of genius. I loved how resourceful and focused she was.
Marina was a riot. Loved her premies and vishies, how she used them and how she reacted to them too. She was a more transparent side of the story, the psychic voice of reason in fact. Her life was also a bit of a mystery, though we find out enough about her. I kept wondering if Zoey would ever actually be a part of the story, and the guessing is always fun. I loved the ending from Marina’s POV all the more due to this guessing.
Plot: The story was a very interesting blend of psychological thriller on Nightingale’s noir-tinted side, and supernatural procedural mystery on Marina’s. The mix worked out very well, keeping the story tense and puzzling at all times though for different reasons on each of the two sides. Quick pace, engaging and exciting overall. The twist toward the end there was really fun, and I had a blast reading the end from Nightingale’s POV.
Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Nightingale/Marina POVs. The letter/diary format is a really nice touch. Loved Nightingale’s accent and Marina’s humor and voice. The split views make for a noir-tinted, fatalist view on things via Nightingale, while through Marina’s eyes things become clear and so, so twisted and desolating it hurts.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for my psychological thriller moods, though it comes with the added bonus of procedural too.
I recommend The Dorchester Five to fans of serial killer POVs and psychic detectives, to fans of noir who want to experience a contemporary and daring take on that note.