‘Zodiac Lives’ is a fictional novel based on a real, non-fictional monster. The premise had me intrigued the moment I heard about it. The real Zodiac killer operated in northern California in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He sent taunting letters to local law enforcement and newspaper personnel with encrypted messages and claimed to have as many as 37 victims. Only seven were actually confirmed. The Zodiac was never apprehended and the case remains open today; creating the perfect backstory for a modern day thriller.
Ms. D’Ettore masterfully weaves her own tale with historical facts to create a gripping novel that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. As each new character is introduced, the reader is left wondering…Could this be the bad guy? Suspicion is cast on everyone…friends, family and even law enforcement. Who can be trusted? Nobody.
I really liked the way this author used the innocence of a child to reveal clues to the mystery a little at a time. It made the story more believable because you were dealing with the idiosyncrasies of an adult trapped in a four year olds mind. Yes, there is a slight paranormal aspect to the story but it’s believable enough to work without distracting from the original premise. Because information was funneled through a child, clues and impressions were muddled and unclear; forcing the players (and the reader) to try to decipher them and solve the mystery a little at a time. I also liked the way the killer’s backstory was revealed through his memories as he questions the Zodiac’s rebirth. We get a clear glimpse into his childhood and can almost sympathize with him. This too makes the conclusion and the killer’s actions more believable. Most psychopaths are cold, calculating and unconscionable. The Zodiac is no exception. However, at the conclusion of the story we realize he actually does have a heart and is capable of love…in a sick, twisted and narcissistic way. This book kept me interested until the very last page and I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy a good thriller.