The Samaritan | Mason Cross | 2015 | Orion | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
Carter Blake is not a detective, nor is Blake his real name. With a history in the military but with an unknown present, Blake makes it his business to find people who don’t want to be found. He’s very good at it indeed.
When young women begin to be abducted from their cars in the Los Angeles hills, their bodies dumped, Blake recognises the killing style. He suspects that he may know the man, quickly named the Samaritan by the police for his method of pretending to help women broken down on these dark remote roads. Blake also fears that the Samaritan may have a killing history that stretches far back through the years and extends way beyond California. It’s not long before local detective Jessica Allen realises she’s out of her depth, in need of the help of the enigmatic Blake, despite the misgivings of her partner Detective Jonathan Mazzucco, her bosses and the increasingly involved FBI.
The Samaritan follows on from the excellent The Killing Season. While it’s not crucial to have read The Killing Season first, I would certainly recommend that you do so because it does a fine job of introducing the strong and compelling character of Carter Blake. The story lines, though, are completely independent of one another. Indeed, The Samaritan gives us a little more about Blake, filling in just a few of the many gaps in our knowledge – but not enough to disperse the mystery, which is an enjoyable quality of both novels.
As in the previous novel, Blake is again aided by a local detective who is fascinating and well-realised in her own right, in this case Jessica Allen. Personally, I also had quite a soft spot for Mazzucco. The main drama, though, is the one surrounding the man terrorising the LA hills, an area that presents its own difficulties for the police.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Killing Season and I was expecting this book to be as least as good. Unfortunately, for me, its predecessor gave The Samaritan too much to live up to and I didn’t find this second book as polished or as thrilling as I’d hoped. This may have been caused by the flashbacks to the past or the fact that Blake has a very good idea who the killer is. There is a fair bit of jumping about and the whodunnit element is missing. While there are some edge-of-seat moments (not to mention emotional shocks and twists), I felt less involved in the drama.
Nevertheless, I think that this is a fine series with an enormous amount of potential and a great future. I will be reading.
The Killing Season