Many thanks to Flame Tree Press for a copy of The Playing Card Killer by Russell James to read in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
“During withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications, Brian is plagued by dreams of women strangled and then left with a playing card tucked in the corpse. But then a nightmare’s victim shows up on the news, dead. Brian fears he may be the unwitting killer. Detective Weissbard thinks the same thing, and starts to build a case to get Brian behind bars. But there’s more to these slayings. Brian finds that his family tree has yielded an unknown brother, Tyler, with a penchant for murder. Tyler is willing to frame Brian for the crimes, unless Brian wants to join Team Playing Card Killer.”
Brian Sheridan’s life gets turned upside down when he decides to stop taking his anti-anxiety and ADHD medication. He enters withdrawal with a bang. The nausea, vivid dreams, and mood swings all take there toll on him, topping it off with his girlfriend walking out. Daniela gave him a choice, well an ultimatum, if he quit his meds, he would lose her too. Brian leads a solitary life, he spends most of time either at his evening job, or at home. Daniela commenting that even dragging him out to see a movie is a chore. His life has always been plagued by anxiety, his fear being brought to the forefront, manifesting as ‘Mr Jitters’.
Not long after Brian stops taking his medication he begins to have these very vivid dreams, well nightmares would be more appropriate. He is witnessing a series of murders, seeing them through the killers eyes. Within his dreams it feels like he is the one committing these murders. Brian is questioning his sanity at first, wondering if he is blacking out and indeed committing these heinous crimes. It takes him a while to realise that he is seeing through the eyes of the killer. He decides to go to the police after seeing familiar details from his dreams on the news. Of course, with his intimate knowledge of the crimes, and the unfortunate timing of his medication withdrawal, Detective Weissbard is convinced that Brian is in-fact the media dubbed ‘Playing Card Killer’. The Twist, it’s his unknown-to-him twin brother Tyler that is the killer.
I love a good crime thriller with it’s twists and turns, the constant plot development and a good underdog character. The Playing Card Killer did not disappoint. Brian Sheridan is a character I could really relate too, he has suffered with mental health issues all his life, he is in a job he isn’t too fond of but it suits his needs and he likes to keep himself to himself. I’m ticking all three of those boxes.
This is a really good read, it is engaging from the start and never loses pace. The characters of both Brian and Weissbard are intriguing, they aren’t too flashy, they are just real people, regular guys, getting through life there own way. Tyler, the murderous twin, is a great character. He is a complete sociopath and he is written really well. The creepy twin vibe was alive and kicking all through this book, Brian and Tyler are polar opposites of each other, yet identical, it’s creepy.
I had a feeling I would enjoy this book just from the cover, and I did.