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The Rosary Girls: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – February 28, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The scene is carefully set--a teenage parochial school girl, artfully posed in death with her arms chained around a graffiti-scarred pillar, clutching a rosary and a picture of a religious painting by Robert Blake. The next three murder victims are found in similar tableaus, each one suggesting the next in a string of calculated killings whose themes are foretold in the sorrowful mysteries familiar to Catholic scholars. It takes Philadelphia detective Jessie Balzano back to her own adolescence and a priest who understands what the grisly slayings are about, but by the time she realizes who's next on the murderer's list and why, time has nearly run out for Jessie and her own daughter. Along with her new partner Kevin Byrne, a former superstar cop with his own secret past and a disturbing tendency to read killers' minds, Jessie makes a strong debut in Montanari's uneven, overwrought thriller, whose Gothic touches--like "living ghosts hovering in darkness, hollow-eyed and craven" in "a Gethsemane amid the cracked concrete and rotten wood and ruined dreams" to describe the abandoned cellar where the first crime took place, for example--too often overpower an otherwise satisfying read. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A specialist in serial killer tales (Kiss of Evil, etc.) offers the gory first in a projected series. A religious nut is preying on Catholic schoolgirls, picking them off with impunity while Philadelphia detective Kevin Byrne and his new partner, Jessica Balzano, wring their hands and wrack their brains. The victims are found with their necks broken, their hands bolted together in prayer and their vaginas sewn shut. Byrne has a problematic past and a Vicodin habit, and Jessica's daughter, Sophie, is a tempting target for the killer, especially since her dad, undercover cop Vincent Balzano, has been kicked out of the house for cheating on Jessica. Several red herring suspects keep both cops and readers off balance, and there are plenty of subplots—Jessica is a female boxer, Byrne is the divorced father of a deaf daughter, there's a nosy tabloid reporter trying to start trouble. But most of these mini-dramas serve only to provide a breather between sadistic mutilations. Montanari can be a wonderfully evocative writer, but the final unveiling of the madman's identity will draw cries of foul from readers who expect a fighting chance at figuring out who the guilty party is.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345470966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345470966
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,013,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Richard Montanari has been around for a little while, writing interesting, even riveting novels that peel back the dark and sordid side of the human psyche. Nothing he has previously done, however, will prepare readers for THE ROSARY GIRLS, his latest novel.

THE ROSARY GIRLS introduces Philadelphia Police Homicide detective Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. Byrne, the veteran, has a high rate of solved cases --- that's what he's supposed to do, but as we quickly learn at the beginning of the novel, his methods are, uh, a bit old-school. In other words, he's effective. There is, however, a price. Byrne isn't broken, but he's badly bent. He's a seething mass of contradictions, all of which rub up against each other, hard and mean, with every move he makes. Naturally he's partnered up with Balzano, the rookie who has an approach to things that is a bit gentler, though she is certainly capable of meeting force with force --- she is, among other things, an amateur boxer in her spare time. The end result is that Balzano could not have a better teacher, and Byrne could not have a better partner.

Balzano and Byrne have their hands full when a fiend begins a ritualistic murder spree, killing Catholic high school girls and leaving them provocatively posed and unspeakably mutilated around the city of Philadelphia. The cops are trying to figure out what the common element is that links these particular girls. Montanari does a great job of plotting here. While the reader gets into the killer's head, it doesn't really help, and ultimately we don't know much more than the police do until the apocalyptic conclusion.

A warning here: Montanari will take you on a tour of the human psyche out where the buses have never run and where the sun has never shone.
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Format: Hardcover
An even better mystery than the excellent plot provided in The Rosary Girls is why Richard Montanari isn't a household name among thriller lovers. The Rosary Girls is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. The story pits two homicide detectives against a fiercely intelligent and relentlessly brutal serial killer -- a killer fueled by a twisted, sacrilegious fury. Montanari writes in a style and provides non-stop twists and turns that will have you glued to the edge of your seat. It's the type of book that you can't wait to finish to see how it ends -- but then you're sorry that it's over. I've already ordered all of Montanari's other books. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of The Rosary Girls.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE ROSARY GIRLS is one of the finest novels I have ever read. It is fast paced and filled with page after page of seat-edged suspense. The book is difficult to put down and will keep you awake long into the night. The characters are extremely well drawn. Even the secondary characters have substance and depth. The dialogue is smooth and realistic, never stilted or boring.

The first thing you will want to do when you finish this novel is read another of Richard Montanari's novels. Unfortunately, his previous novels are not readily available. The best thing this author's agent/publisher could do would be to reissue his backlist. It would be an act of kindness to all of us who favor the suspense or mystery genre.

This author should be encouraged to write, write and then write some more.

Fans of James Patterson, John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Mary Higgins Clark, Nelson DeMille and John Lescroart will add Richard Montanari to their list of favorite authors.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had never heard of Richard Montanari before a recommendation from an Amazon friend. Having gotten tired of the formulaic novels of many of my favorite authors (who are now late into their careers), I decided to give this one a try. Montanari pulls you in with the twisted, dark and contorted life of one of the main detectives, Kevin Bryne, adds a babe named Jessica Balzano as his new partner and you, the reader, are off to the races. The plot is well thought out and sustains the action throughout the book. There are twists and turns everywhere as the story unfolds and the reader is rocked from one side to the other. It is near impossible to see the end coming until well near the last pages.

Byrne is just as complex a character as Harry Bosch or the early Alex Cross, and the writing of Montanari can stand up to both early Connelly and the early James Patterson. The bad guy is every bit the challenge and menace that Gary Soneji and The Poet were. Where this author has been hiding and why no one has sounded the alert for his works is beyond me. This is one of the best crime fiction genre books that I've ever read and I've read hundreds.

4.5 Stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first book I have ready by Richard Montanari. It took a few pages for me to get into the flow, but after that it was a very good read. I look forward to reading the second in this series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first time I've read this author and will probably be the last. Despite the many gushing 5-star reviews, I was mightily underwhelmed. There were just way too many plot holes, idiocies, and too many unbelievable and annoying things about the characters. For one big thing, these supposedly brilliant cops are very nearly too stupid to live. For instance:

From very early on, they're sure the perp could have a medical background, yet never once do they bother to check if there was any medical connection or commonality between the girls. They check into everything else, including (multiple times) the possible gang connections of these innocent Catholic girls. They find hospital bracelets in the girls' possessions. But do they look into this very obvious possibility? Nope (that would've cut the book in half, at least).

On several occasions, when interviewing witnesses, they repeatedly fail to ask natural, obvious questions which would've provided valuable clues. Or some contrived interruption occurs which miraculously blocks things JUST when the crucial bit of evidence might've been revealed. It felt very contrived; I was consciously aware that the author was dodging letting things be known which would have moved the investigation forward, or that he just couldn't think of a way to have the detectives ask obvious & crucial questions without messing up his plot. The `brilliant detectives' do a lot of blundering around and (especially Byrne) sitting moodily in crack houses and abandoned alleys. One thing the author did get right is how hellish migraine pain is, though my migraines have never made me psychic.

Sadly, the author just could not resist the movie cliché of The Cocking Maneuver (as Roger Ebert dubbed it).
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