The Echo Man by Sam Holland

Posted On 14 June 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review: Read it if you dare

echoman

The Echo Man by Sam Holland is an impressive debut.  The main concept of a copycat serial killer is chilling and horrifying to read and the pace and tension are ramped up as the police try to stop the killer before more lives are lost.

Jess Ambrose’s life is shattered when her house goes up in flames killing her husband and leaving her as the chief suspect.  Determined to prove her innocence she runs from the hospital and the police and goes into hiding with the help of a renegade, and currently suspended, detective called Nate Griffin.

At the same time Cara Elliott is taking the lead on a number of recent and grisly murders.  These cases are believed to be unconnected until one of the most recent murder scenes triggers a connection and the police become aware that these cases echo the  MOs of previous serial killers.  With this in mind, the manhunt is stepped up and at the same time the body count climbs ever higher as the murderer becomes over confident.

What I liked about the Echo Man is that the author manages to provide the characters with their own stories, background, family and tragedies.  Both Jess and Nate have personal issues that they struggle with on a daily basis and are drawn to each other in an almost protective way.  Cara is also struggling.  She has a devoted police team but the surge in murders means that most of the time time she’s in work, missing her husband and daughter and the simple everyday things that they usually enjoy.  On top of this Cara and Nate are brother and sister, which doesn’t necessarily make working together easy, particularly as Nate is liable to blow up, has a hate/hate relationship with one of the other detectives and doesn’t really follow orders.

Now, I’m just going to point out that this book makes for some shocking, vivid and almost nightmarish descriptions of murder.  This is not for the faint hearted.  I’m not saying the blood and death here is gratuitous because that certainly isn’t the case.  The murderer is mimicking famous serial killers and posing his death scenarios in a way that is almost like a tribute to them – the fact that these are real murderers is probably what gives this the real shock value.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I had to suspend my disbelief in relation to certain things.  I found myself reading and at first harboring niggles about the unlikelihood of certain elements that took place.  Then I gave my head a wobble and decided that regardless of a few plot holes here and there I was going to read this for the murder mystery/chiller element that I thought was really well done.  I must say that the one thing that really struck me though was the timeframe at the end – the murders were stacking up with almost indecent haste and it felt too frantic.

Overall, I think this is an impressive debut.  It’s chilling, bloody and fast paced.  I practically whipped though this one with indecent haste because I was desperate to know the who/what/why element and in spite of the grim bloodfest I barely put this down and in fact found myself missing the characters when everything came to an end.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating between 3.5 and 4 stars.  Rounded up to 4