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Book Review: The Bricklayer of Albany Park

The Bricklayer of Albany Park (advance reading copy). Terry John Malik. St. Louis, MO: Blank Slate Press, August 22, 2017, Trade Paperback, 342 pages. 

Reviewed by Florence Osmund.

Terry John Malik’s The Bricklayer of Albany Park is the story of Chicago detective Frank Vincenti, charged with apprehending a uniquely disturbed serial killer. In his well-structured and well-written debut novel, Malik deftly paints an interesting, complex, true-to-life cast of characters.

While in college and during his early years as a detective, Vincenti learns from the best—retired Chicago detective Thomas Foster. While Foster’s unconventional teaching methods annoy some people, they enable Vincenti to become one of Chicago’s go-to detectives for solving the City’s bizarre murders. When a serial killer—who the press nicknames The Bricklayer—comes onto the scene, Vincenti finds himself turning to Foster for help to gain insight into the killer’s psyche. With his sanity and marriage at risk, Vincenti lives and breathes a relentless pursuit of the killer to put the horrendous killings to an end.

Alternating between two character points of views—Vincenti’s and The Bricklayer’s—the action builds in short snappy chapters populated by three-dimensional characters and artful, descriptive writing that makes for a compelling read.

The evening’s rain had turned the pavement from light grey to shiny black and brought with it a chill typical of a Chicago November night.

Malik’s skill in layering the elements of the story, dropping hints that deepen the reader’s anticipation of what lies ahead, and embedding subliminal clues will keep readers spellbound throughout this book. Skillful changes in pacing also contribute to a dramatic effect that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

There was no satisfaction in this kill, no muffled screaming, no wide-eyed look of terror in his eyes. No desperate pleas for mercy.

Despite the gruesomeness (which I generally steer away from in the books I read), there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book. I was able to overlook the few technical errors I found knowing it was an uncorrected review copy that I was reading.

I found this book intriguing, memorable, and engaging. Malik’s fluid writing style makes it flow well and a relatively easy read. I can recommend it to eighteen and older readers who love a good mystery and aren’t faint of heart.


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