I recently won a copy of I Am Not A Monster by Carme Chapparo. I had high hopes for this book. The title hints at something unexpected. Is there anything better than a piece of writing where you end up sympathizing with someone you should despise?? This story centers around the search for (ultimately) 3 little boys who all disappear from the same mall under similar circumstances. The first was two years ago, the second and third were about a week apart. The offender is dubbed “The Taker” by the press, and at first I thought it unusual that he would earn a nickname after the first kidnapping, but it sorta makes sense by the end.
Overall, the book delivers, but the first half was a bit of a struggle for me. I think part of my problem was that this book was translated from Spanish so I suspect some of the word choice that felt “off” was due to that. For example, early on there seemed to be a lot of incongruous conversations. Police officers calling one another “sweetie” or “baby”. Sure, they were female, that just felt so wrong. There also seemed to be needless repetition of information we’d already learned. Midway through the story the Police Commander was changed to someone the main character did not like or get along with. I know this was to introduce more tension into the book but attempts at making him into a belligerent ass seemed a bit…forced. And, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. Oh, it was good to have that pressure from above, but he didn’t need to be such an asshole. Commanders often have to make decisions that are unpopular with subordinate officers. Their authority is absolute, so they don’t need to be jerks about it But again, the awkwardness of some of those conversations could be due to the translation.
By the second half of the book, the action picked up and things clicked into place much better. My mind raced ahead knowing that the current suspect *couldn’t* be the one…or could he? That’s the whole reason to read a mystery/thriller, isn’t it? The joy of figuring it out before the author makes everything painfully obvious to the rest of the readers.
All in all, a good book. I expected the killer to be someone in the story, (I was holding out hope they’d find a way to pin it on the evil Commander, but sigh, not to be. Oops, spoiler.) but I was surprised at the final revelation. I was also surprised at the motivation… the clues were there the whole time but I overlooked them!