Elena Forbes

Mark Tartaglia - Detective Inspector, London

"Die With Me"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky OCT 25, 2007)

"Do you feel the attraction of the void? Do you feel the pull as you look over the edge of a high place, knowing that you're only a second away from death if you choose?

"Trust me, there is no other way, not if you want me. When we meet, I'm sure I can make your fears melt away. Until then, remember one thing. This isn't a world worth living in. There can be no future for us here."

Die With Me by Elena Forbes

Elena Forbes’s Die with Me opens in a gloomy London churchyard, where the inscription on a tombstone reads “How short is life, how soon comes death.”  In this dour setting, a mysterious man has arranged a tryst with a fourteen-year-old girl.  They have planned a do-it-yourself- wedding ceremony, but instead of going on a honeymoon, they plan to commit suicide and be together forever in the hereafter.  What the innocent teenager does not realize is that “Tom,” which is what her supposed bridegroom calls himself, is a fraud.  He has no intention of committing suicide, but he does enjoy sending women to their deaths—alone.

Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia, Detective Sergeant Sam Donovan, and the rest of the murder team set out to find a sadist who has conducted this twisted courtship ritual with more than one lonely and depressed female.  

Tartaglia has been feeling a bit down himself.  His boss and close friend, DCI Trevor Clarke, lies in a coma after crashing his motorbike, and the prognosis is grim. With Clarke out of commission, Detective Superintendent Clive Cornish names Tartaglia acting Senior Investigating Officer.   Adding to his misery, Tartaglia still has feelings for pathologist Fiona Blake, whom he dumped when he learned of her engagement to another man.  Unfortunately, he and Blake still have to work together, and this makes for some awkward and embarrassing encounters.  Meanwhile, Sam Donovan carefully hides her attraction to Mark, who is “bloody gorgeous.”  She has accepted the fact that they are “good mates” who have an effective working relationship.  There is no time for romance when you are working day and night, including weekends, trying to catch a serial killer.

Tracking down “Tom” proves to be an exercise in futility.  The man is a chameleon and an expert at disguising his appearance and intentions.  There are few witnesses and no useful forensic evidence.  When the scope of the investigation widens and details are leaked to the press, Cornish puts DCI Carolyn Steele in charge of the inquiry.  Tartaglia resents Steele and loathes her former lover, Patrick Kennedy, whom she brings in as a Behavioural Investigative Analyst (psychological profiler).  

Forbes has written a fast-paced and skillfully constructed police procedural with an intriguing mix of well-delineated characters.  Although Mark Tartaglia is a bit arrogant and aggressive, he is a dedicated cop whose hunches and hard work frequently pay off.  Sam Donovan puts in long hours with few complaints, but she sorely misses having a life outside of work.  DCI Carolyn Steele is a strong and determined woman who does her best to crack the case of the “Bridegroom Killer,” but she is frustrated at her lack of progress and is repelled when she begins receiving a series of threatening emails, apparently from the villain whom they are seeking.  The criminal, whom the author introduces early on, is a standard issue psychopath with an uncanny ability to attract women and elude the authorities throughout his killing spree.  Forbes includes some red herrings to muddy the waters a bit, and concludes with the requisite surprise ending, which will not come as a huge shock to alert readers.  However, she is careful not to tie up too many loose ends, since a sequel is already in the works.  Most readers will be eager to learn what happens next to Tartaglia and company.  Die with Me is an auspicious and entertaining debut novel.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 8 reviews

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About the Author:

Elena ForbesElena Forbes grew up in London. After earning a degree in French and Italian from Bristol University, she worked in portfolio management for a number of international investment groups before becoming a full-time writer.

She lives in central London with her husband and two children

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