Sunday, December 2, 2018

On the Count of Three by Carolyn Arnold - Book Review

Book: On the Count of Three
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Publication Date: 10 December 2018
Publisher: Hibbert and Stiles

"Our unsub has never been about hiding the identity of his victims. He's always left their teeth intact and never mutilated their faces, making identification easy."

On the Count of Three by Carolyn Arnold is the seventh instalment in the Brandon Fisher series. This is my first read in the series and I didn't feel lost in any way with it being the seventh.

I loved that the book opens with a flashback from the killer, initiating suspense from the first page. The "unsub" appears to seek out recently-released people who were found guilty in drunk-driving accidents.

Miami police department (PD) officer Kelly Marsh investigates a murder and thinks there is a serial killer on the loose. So, she calls former mentor Jack Harper and his FBI team to assist her with the investigation.

A lot of emotions are flying as Kelly struggles with her boss, who doesn't do much but get the spotlight, while Brandon Fisher, a member of Harper's team, feels that there is some kind of history between Kelly and Jack. Throughout the novel, we see Brandon being jealous of Kelly, creating some occasional humour and suspense.

"Not only had they been happy to see each other but every word that came from [Kelly's] lips seemed to make Jack proud. And in contrast, everything I said was frowned upon. Literally."

On the Count of Three reminded me of the show Criminal Minds, and later one of the characters voices my thoughts. I felt that several of the characters were similar to those from Criminal Minds; Zach is a lot like Spencer Reed, and their lead Jack Harper is a bit like Aaron Hotchner.

Also like the series, there were some bits that felt like the quotes they used at the beginning and ending of each episode. Still, the book is different in its own way.

"The BAU?" Her brows rose in perfectly shaped arches. "Like from that TV show Criminal Minds?"

Each character has their pros and cons; I liked the medical examiner with her black humour, and Kelly, a woman hell-bent on bringing justice to those who deserve it and one who views the perpetrators who were murdered by the killer as victims.

My Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC)

One of the things I really liked about On the Count of Three is the use of actual policing and procedures. Arnold provides detailed information about body decomposition and lividity in a way that is both educational and exciting.

There is also lots of conversation throughout the book to keep the pace quick and the reader's mind working.

"Hope was a double-edged sword. It could empower and destroy. In some ways, hope was worse than closure. Especially, when bad news came on the tail end of sparked optimism."

I felt that On the Count of Three had too many perspectives. Nearly all were in the third person, with the exception of Brandon's, which was in the first person. In most cases it was easy to pick up whose perspective the reader was seeing the events from.

The sections where the killer was the speaker were interesting, showing how they felt, spoke, acted and reacted, and so on.

"I would kill to sleep in."
She had no idea how exhausting kidnapping and killing were. How both deserved a nice, long snooze afterward.

Although the book is one of the Brandon Fisher series, Brandon is not the only main character. We see perspectives from various characters including Zach and Kelly. I felt that Brandon wasn't the know-it-all who had all the answers. Again, since this is my first read in the series, I don't know if this is the case with the other books – but it is something I thought worth mentioning.

Overall, On the Count of Three is quick-paced and exciting. The reader is easily immersed in the investigation as the FBI and Miami PD detective seek to uncover clues and pinpoint bits and analyse what is going on to catch the serial killer.

"Charm and charisma were two of the best weapons in any murderer's arsenal. Sweet, yet sticky like honey."

The language is easy and I picked up some new investigative and medical-examiner terminology. I enjoyed Arnold's word choice throughout On the Count of Three, including the quotable bits at the beginning of some chapters. But particularly how the book ends not only by catching the killer but through word choice.

"Chaos and aftermath didn't have to be viewed as horrible. Light came from darkness."

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Check out this post by Carolyn Arnold on Five Steps to Profiling a Serial Killer.
Note: I received an advanced reader's copy (ARC) of On the Count of Three from the publisher Hibbert & Stiles in exchange for an honest review.


The following book in this series is Past Deeds, which I got as an ARC in 2020 and gave a 5-star review.

Update: I've finally picked up one of the police procedural books in the Detective Madison Knight Mystery series. I started with book 10 What We Bury and I loved it!

More book reviews for books by Carolyn Arnold on Nadaness In Motion: 
Cozy mysteries in the Mckinley Series: Coffee Is MurderHalloween Is Murder, Money Is Murder and Exercise Is Murder. 
Historical fiction and adventure in The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh

About the Author:
CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international bestselling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author, in her genre, with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.TM
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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