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Five by Ursula Archer

Five” is a psychological thriller set in beautiful Salzburg, Austria which pits a brilliant p0lice inspector, Beatrice Kaspary, against a serial killer who sets out clues using a popular kind of scavenger hunt called geocaching.

To find out more about geocaching I signed up for a free membership (there is also a premium level that allows for filtering and more features.) Geocachers hide small treasure troves for others to find and identify them with clues that require solving puzzles or problems and following GPS to specific coordinates.  Normally the treasure boxes are left in place and the finder simply signs a logbook found in the treasure box and also indicates the find online.  I learned that there are dozens of geocaches within a mile of my home.  Who knew?

In “Five” the serial killer takes the treasure hunt theme to a gruesome extreme by leaving body parts for Beatrice and her police team to find.  In some cases kidnapped victims are themselves left as the treasures to find.  The ingenious and sadistic killer controls the hunt by leaving clues on his own terms. First the team must figure out what each of the victims has in common.  That takes a long and frustrating series of interviews with family and associates of the victims, and an almost futile look for mistakes that the killer may have made.

Beatrice and the team really only start making progress in solving the murders when she starts turning the game against the killer causing him anger and frustration.  He starts making little mistakes in his frustration. This tactic also makes Beatrice a target for the serial killer.  She virtually invites him to come after her–and he does with terrifying results.  But will the cops be successful at getting the killer before he kills Beatrice and goes on harming other victims?

I found “Five” absolutely addictive and hard to put down until the last thrilling page.  Highly recommended, though not for the squeamish!

Liz Nichols

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