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5.0 out of 5 starsBeginning of a great series
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2019
I got a deal on one of the later books in this series, and really liked it. So decided to go back to the beginning. The character development is good, and I enjoy the portrayal of Balzano as a strong female who has her weaknesses like anyone else. I don't know if real police detectives go to the sometimes unethical and/or criminal lengths that these detectives do to catch the bad guy, but it makes for suspenseful reading. I plan to read all the books in this series.
This is the first title in a series featuring Philadelphia homicide detectives. While each book is a stand alone work, it's nice to get the full background of the partnership. Good read, good view of Philadelphia.
5.0 out of 5 starsTerrific yarn about crime in Philadephia
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2017
Mr Montanari writes about the greater Philadelphia area. His characterizations are finely crafted and are really police procedurals. Detective Byrne has suffered from head trauma in the past and as a result has premonitions about impending events. This isn't weird or off-putting in the least. His partner is a much younger woman Balzano who comes from a family background of policemen. Together they solve some amazing crimes. Never been to Philadelphia but it sounds like a great place to visit from the author's descriptions.
I finished this book in 3 days mostly evenings and nights to early mornings! Very suspenseful. I didn't figure out how it would end until the author wrote it which hardly ever happens for me. This is the first bk by this author i have read and it won't be the last.
5.0 out of 5 starsMontanari in the First Rank of Thriller Writers
Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2008
I reviewed a later book of this talented author and didn't feel he was yet in the major leagues of thriller-writers. But this earlier book certainly, for my money, puts him there. I guess the later book was a little off. In any case, this is a wonderful -- but gruesome -- book. An astonishingly creative and complex plot, fantastic characters, especially detectives Byrne and Balzano, arcane knowledge of Catholic church ritual so neatly woven into the story, layer upon layer of suspense slowly being peeled away. All in all, Montanari is a master. The fact that this wonderful thriller takes place in my home town of Philly, with its wonderful locations that lend themselves to this kind of book, plus its fabled police department is a plus. Best thriller I've read in a while.
I read a lot of thrillers and police procedurals, and this has got to be one of the best. The plotting was excellent, the characters interesting and fresh. There were twists and turns right to the end, and all of them caught me by surprise. This book actually scared me! I can't wait to read the author's other books.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis was a book that was hard to put down. I enjoyed the characters and that it was set on Philly. Having grown up near Philly I was familiar with the different areas. Also I went to Catholic School for twelve years. Can't wait to read the next book.
Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020
This was a book that was hard to put down. I enjoyed the characters and that it was set on Philly. Having grown up near Philly I was familiar with the different areas. Also I went to Catholic School for twelve years. Can't wait to read the next book.
“The Rosary Girls” by Richard Montanari sees a new partnership is formed in rookie detective, Jessica Balzano, and veteran detective, Kevin Byrne, due to his previous partner being laid up in hospital post heart attack. Instead of being slowly eased into her new role as a homicide detective, Balzano's first body is that of a catholic schoolgirl whose hands have been bolted together in a gesture of prayer and she's clutching onto a set of rosary beads. Byrne is unsure if Balzano, the daughter of a famous philadelphia cop, will approve of his approach but together they must work together to catch the serial killer preying on Philadelphia's catholic schoolgirls...
This particular crime formula of a veteran detective that lives on the edge while breaking rules and making enemies along the way being partnered with a fresh faced rookie detective is a cliché that has been done a hundredfold. However, Montanari's shows us how it should be written in “The Rosary Girls” due to giving it a new lease of life and really bringing his characters to life with background stories including journalists out for blood, their family lives and just their every day interactions with each other. Byrne hints towards having a 'psychic' ability where he can sense what happened at a crime scene if he gets a good look at it. If handled incorrectly, this could have caused the book to crash due to readers not seeing it as completely realistic but Montanari handles it like a professional and I found myself curious as to what Byrne could see also.
When it comes to religious murders, sometimes you can be treading into risky territories but Montanari did his research and managed to write a perfect case as well as completely surprise the reader at the end when the killer and motive was revealed. The research in to police procedure was flawless and his writing makes you feel like a third detective on this new crime solving team.
With a gritty, fast-paced and intricate storylines, “The Rosary Girls” was a novel that had me hooked from the first word to the very last and I can't wait to join Byrne and Balzano on their next case.
5.0 out of 5 stars'There are things you need to know about these girls.'
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2014
I recently changed my own criteria regarding how many stars I give to a book in order that five stars would only be given to those that are truly outstanding and could make my top twenty. Therefore, I expected it to be some time before an award of five stars would be given again. How wrong I was. Rosary Girls is one of the best detective stories I have ever read - right up there with the outstanding works of Chris Carter
Rosary Girls tells the story of a serial-killer in Philadelphia who is targeting young Catholic girls for horrific deaths. The crimes are being investigated by the newly formed partnership team of Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. Each character has his and her own past which is being slowly drip-fed to us and they find they work together extremely well from their first meeting. This is a refreshing change from the cliched strained relationships that authors often create where one partner replaces another. They both go about their work in a realistic way with a good team behind them. It is also refreshing that there isn't an uptight boss behind them with the intelligence of a goldfish and who is trying to take any glory for himself. In short, this is a very realistic story that leaves any sensationalism to the actions of the villain.
The theme of Christ's passion and the 'Five Sorrowful Mysteries also make for a truly powerful read and the methodology of the 'doer' is quite disturbing yet absorbing.
There are five more stories so far in this series and I cannot wait to read them.
5.0 out of 5 starsA brilliant opening to this series
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 30, 2016
I stumbled upon book 7 in this series at my local library. Not realising it was part of a series, I read it anyway and thought how great it was - pacy, cleverly written, punchy, full of the twists and turns that make a good thriller, and also some touching moments to contrast perfectly.
When I discovered it was book 7 in a series of 9 I thought I simply had to read the whole series.
And so it was that I treated myself to all 9 books, and having read this first one I am so glad I splashed out on the whole series.
It is good to read about Byrne and Balzano in their first days as partners, and now I am really relishing the thought that I have 8 more books to get stuck into.
Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good roller coaster thriller.
This book was a reasonable read. I did struggle to begin with and it took me a while to be gripped. I would have given three stars but the last quarter of the book saved it for me and I read that section in a day.
These books have been compared to Chris Carter's but for me this wasn't in the same league. His are much faster paced and I found the beginning of this book quite hard going.
However all being said I will probably at some point give the second book a go to see whether it grips me more quickly. Not a bad read, but for me, not one of the best.
'The Rosary Girls' begins when a young girl has been found murdered with her hands bolted together as well as other sickening mutilations and rosary beads between her fingers. Called to investigate are long-time homicide detective, Kevin Byrne and his new partner, Jessica Balzano. More girls, with the only connection to each other being that they attend catholic schools, are found in similar conditions every day leading up to Easter. With time running out and next to no clues on who and where the killer will strike next, Byrne and Balzano are in a race against time to stop one of Philidelphia's worst serial killers.
This is the first book that I've read by Richard Montanari (and the first of his that was released in the UK) and is definitely not the last as 'The Rosary Girls' is well up there with the likes of Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs and James Patterson's Kiss The Girls. I've now ordered the second Byrne and Balzano novel, The Skin Gods, and am really looking forward to giving it a read!
From the opening chapter I was completely gripped by the storyline. Montanari really knows how to write a good thriller - just when I thought I'd worked out who the killer was (on a number of occasions) he turns the story completely around, making me think it was someone completely different! The setting is dark and gritty, showing you the most violent and seedy sides of Philedelphia. The lead characters Byrne and Balzano are very likeable and believable (although some of the crime fiction detective stereotypes are still there) and are ones that I look forward to see how they develop in future novels.
Overall it is a very entertaining read and one of the best that I've read in a long time. If you're after a real whodunnit, with plenty of twists and suspense, as well as some really good characters, look no further than 'The Rosary Girls'. 10/10!