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Mystery Books - Sean Slater - Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Simon & Schuster 2012

Author Sean Slater known in real life as  Sean Sommerville, a Vancouver police officer whose beat encompasses the most unstable and dangerous dregs of the city.  Snakes and Ladders is the second installment in his Jacob Striker mystery series.

Snakes and Ladders is a deadly game, and Striker is caught in the middle.  Unknown to the city, a masked serial killer who calls himself The Adder, is systematically and calculatingly terrorizing young women.  Meanwhile, plagued by mental health issues,19 year-old Mandy Gill is found dead of an apparent suicide.  

Striker spots an anomaly that hints of murder, but he must obtain proof.  Soon threatened by The Adder, he rushes headlong into an investigation, often circumventing protocol, with his partner and flickering flame Felicia in tow.

When one of their own, Larisa Logan contacts Striker promising damning information, then subsequently vanishes, the stakes are raised and Striker runs full throttle.  He discovers that Mandy, Larisa, and a likely suspect all have similar links to the mental health system and connections to psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Osterman; a stellar and powerful member of the community and regular contributor to the Police Mutual Benevolent Fund, who works in and oversees multiple clinics.

Filled with hidden secrets, and never giving too much away, Snakes and Ladders is a solid psychological thriller, which takes place only over a few days.  As we descend further into the dark and tormented mind of the killer, and experience the full extent of the madness, it grows more disturbing and complex with every turn.

Made up of 532 pages, and 109 albeit short chapters, Snakes and Ladders is a bit long, but certainly not tedious.  In fact, the more you read, the more you get hooked.  As the plot intensifies, giving it a rest is difficult.

Characters are must-watch-the-car-wreck fascinating.  Locations are often creepy and mysterious, as Slater leads you right down the garden path, then unexpectedly strikes with stunning twists, as dark and sinister takes on a new definition.

Here some ladders are obvious, others laden with multiple meanings.  It is an interesting challenge to discover who the snakes are.

Not for the faint of heart, Snakes and Ladders is very well done, as a solid, serious read, and Slater is an author rapidly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

J Curran

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