Fresh Blood

Name: P.D. Martin

Title of Book: Body Count

'This is a marvellous series starter...'

Sophie Anderton is a profiler for the FBI. Newly drafted in from Australia, Sophie is now based in DC. With her new-found friend, Sam, who has been given a new file on the latest serial killer on the block, the DC Slasher, they begin to look at the case. But now the stakes are high and the killer is getting very cocky indeed. He has left a message for Sam, goading her to find him. With the help of Sophie, the two women start to investigate this killer and begin to scrabble around into the past looking for more murders. Then Sam is kidnapped and a piece of jewellery not belonging to her is found at her flat. The killer is now playing with the FBI, taunting them now he has one of their own.

Soon Sophie finds a link between the murdered women in DC to other murdered women in different counties around the States. All were kidnapped and held over time and when dumped, they had been cut and positioned in a certain way. All except the first, which Sophie feels will lead directly to the killer. It is a race against time to find that missing link that will lead Sophie to the man who is holding her best friend hostage. She will stop at nothing to get answers and they all know that they are against the clock, every second ticking away means another second towards Sam’s inevitable death if they don’t find her in time.

Body Count is the fast paced opening of what is a planned trilogy. Sophie is an engaging, determined woman who finds herself in an alien country. Although she is a profiler for the FBI, she has a hidden talent which she has told nobody about. Sophie has dreams - and they are not nice dreams. She can see the victim of a killer as the events are happening. She can see through the killer’s eyes and see the torment on the girl’s face. It is very distressing for Sophie, especially when she has dreams about her friend, Sam who has been captured by this maniac.

Despite the element of the psychic properties within Sophie, the plot is embedded firmly within fact and Martin seems to have acquired quite a bit of knowledge about the FBI, profiling and forensics which certainly sweeps the story along and lends it credence. The murders themselves are grizzly, but certainly won’t put off any hardened crime reader. The writing is simple, but not so simple that it doesn’t have edge to it or bring with it a sense of urgency, as the victim’s colleagues rush to find the perpetrator before he can bring down one of their own as his next victim. I enjoyed reading the visions that Sophie experiences and hope that this subject, along with the tantalising mysterious titbits throw at us regarding Sophie’s brother, are broadened in the next two planned novels. This is a marvellous series starter and I believe that Martin could certainly be a name to watch out for.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) As it slowly evolves and increases in popularity, crime fiction seems to be organically sub-dividing into a number of widely diverse categories. Which genre (or sub-genre, even…) of crime novel would you say you write in?
Body Count is about a serial killer, so it could be put into the serial killer genre. However, it can also be described as a police/FBI procedural, plus there’s lots of forensics, and it’s also a whodunit, and the main character gets psychic flashes. As a fast-paced novel, the general genre of thriller fits too! And it sounded like such a simple question!
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I like reading lots of different types of crime fiction, although I do prefer reading a series. I grow attached to the characters and like to find out what happens in their continuing journey.
3) What gave you the idea of placing an Australian female character into the FBI in America?
Given I’m an Aussie, I really wanted my leading lady to be Australian. However, I’d already decided she would be a profiler because it’s an area that really interests me and I’ve studied psychology and criminology. But Australia only has three profilers and I wanted Sophie to be working in a team of profilers. My research told me that the FBI was the place to be for Sophie.
4) The main character has psychic dreams. What drew you to add this plot twist into the story? Will this aspect be expanded in the next two books?
The psychic part is actually how it all started, rather than a plot twist! Body Count’s storyline and the psychic element are based on a particularly nasty nightmare I had about 10 years ago. In the dream a serial killer murdered my friends one by one and I was investigating the crimes, trying desperately to find the killer before he struck again. During the dream I woke up immediately after I discovered each body, shaken by finding loved ones dead in a blood-covered room. But each time I went back to sleep the dream continued exactly where I’d left off. I was unable to escape it. Between 2am and 6am I woke up four times. In the last part of the dream the killer was after me, and when I woke up at 6am the killer’s hands were closing around my throat. Later that day I made a tragic discovery…one of my friends had died. The estimated time of death was between 2am and 6am, the exact time of the nightmare.

Years later, I thought “imagine if a police investigator actually had psychic flashes about a case she was working”. And so Body Count and Sophie were born.

And yes, Sophie’s ability will certainly be expanded as the series goes on.
5) You make a reference to an incident concerning the main character’s brother. Is this going to be significant in later books?
Sophie’s brother was abducted and murdered when Sophie was eight years old and this early brush with a killer is what gives Sophie her drive for justice - so it’s a very important part of her character and therefore significant. However, I’ve also got plans for Sophie to return to Shepparton, Australia and work on her brother’s unsolved murder at some stage in the series (I haven’t decided which book yet, though!).
6) You include a lot of facts about FBI profiling and procedure. Where did you get your research information from?
I did a great deal of research for Body Count and for the future Sophie Anderson books – and I love the research part! I use lots of resources, including the FBI, books, the Internet, magazines and one-on-one interviews with experts in their fields. For example, I’ve spoken to Candice de Long (retired FBI agent and profiler), Deb Bennet (Victoria Police profiler), Shelley Robertson (forensic pathologist) and Jim Tuttle (retired US cop). These people are invaluable!
7) Without giving away the plot, which book - yours or by another author - included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Plot twists are tricky things. You’re never going to surprise every single person, every single time. I must admit, I can’t think of my “favourite” plot twist in a novel off hand. The main plot twist that comes to mind is from a movie – the infamous The Sixth Sense.
8) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
I think going from a novel to the big screen is extremely hard, because readers develop their own “vision” of the characters, places, etc. and often no movie can live up to that. Having said that, I have enjoyed Kiss the Girls, Silence of the Lambs, and Red Dragon. I think the best film adaptation ever (not crime though) is The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
9) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Yes, I’m definitely a crime fiction fan, although these days I read so many research, non-fiction crime books that I tend to read fantasy or action adventures during my ‘time off’. One author I admire greatly is Agatha Christie - she was one of the first successful women in mainstream crime and she was also one of the first crime fiction authors I read so she was a huge influence on me.
10) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
My favourite crime read of all time... another hard one! It’s difficult to single out one particular book, but in the theme of an author who influenced me, I’d have to say And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I remember being very scared. It’d be interesting to go back and read it now - no doubt I’d find it tame!