A review of Bad Moon Rising by Frances di Plino

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Bad Moon Rising
by Frances di Plino
Crooked Cat Publishing
227 pages, March 5, 2012

I almost never read thrillers, much less dark psychological ones. The older I get the more squeamish, and I find that reading about grusome murder doesn’t sit well with me. Bad Mooon Rising doesn’t pull any punches either. The book opens right into the viewpoint of a serial killer, in the midst of a grisly crime. We follow the murderer through the book too, and several more unpleasantly graphic crimes. However, the violence is never gratituous, the characters–even the murderer–are, without fail, well drawn, deep and compelling. The more I read, the more I found myself drawn into the life of the protagonist, Detective Inspector Paolo Storey, whose own personal ‘story’ and search for the killer helps ease the tension of the killings. Storey is as warm and personable as his misogynist partner Dave is off-putting, and following his attempts to re-gain his family as well as solve the crime is enough to drive the story forward.

The story is full of suspects, with all sorts of hints, twists, and subtle connections that will leave the reader guessing, and turning pages quickly right to the end. There are a number of sub-stories throughout he book that pick up on some of the stronger themes, in particular that of domestic violence and the belittling of women, which mirrors the more drastic actions of the murderer, who has chosen to pick on young prostitutes. Paolo’s own back-story is well contrasted with the back-story of the murderer, revealed in small glimpses through the story’s progression.

Though this is not a book for the faint-of-heart, Bad Moon Rising is extremely well-written, compelling and fast-paced. The quality of the writing, and deep, intense characters and their complications will stay with the reader, long after the book is finished. Though the ending is satisfying, there are a number of threads left open, which suggests a sequel might be on the rise.

About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novels Black Cow, and Sleep Before Evening, and a number of other poetry and nonfiction collaborations. Find out more at www.magdalenaball.com.