The Dollmaker
December 6, 2023

Book Review

The Dollmaker

reviewed by Pam Guynn

The Dollmaker by Mary Burton combines a police procedural, crime thriller, and romantic suspense into a fascinating, shocking, and chilling tale. Dr. Tessa McGowan is a forensic pathologist. She’s married, but separated from Virginia State Police Agent Dakota Sharp. Someone is kidnapping women and altering their faces to resemble dolls.

Twelve years ago, a tragedy occurred in Sharp’s world that has caused him to devote himself to capturing killers. His one regret is that it cost him Tessa.

Tessa is reasonable, calm, straightforward, and can easily shrug off anxiety. She has changed in the last eight months and wants to make their marriage work. Sharp has a desire to protect and seek justice. He’s a workaholic who doesn’t project emotions making him seem distant to others. His ability to compartmentalize and detach enables him to do his job well. I felt like Sharp was better defined and had more depth than Tessa in this one, but both were well done. It was also great to catch up with characters from book one including Riley Tatum and Clay Bowman. The character that stands out though, is the unknown antagonist that is being sought in the story.

Mary Burton knows how to write a police procedural with plenty of suspense and thrills that allow readers to experience shocking action scenes from the comfort and safety of their homes. From a heartbreaking prologue to a shocking and chilling second chapter, I couldn’t stop turning the pages to see what would happen next. This is a story of multiple murder cases, one of which is a cold case. The author does a great job of bringing together the past and the present with case files, interviews, and photos.

The author is a great storyteller with gripping scenes and a disturbing story intermixed with a couple trying to decide if they can reconcile and be happy together. The plot moves at a fast pace with twists and turns. The antagonist’s identity was a complete surprise to me. The chemistry between Tessa and Sharp was there, but took a backseat to the crime thriller and police procedural parts of the book. There was a steamy scene or two.

Overall, this tense, suspenseful, and tragic thriller gripped me from the beginning. It was difficult to put down. The author brings strong characters, a great plot, wonderful relationships, and excellent pacing to the novel. Written for those who love crime thrillers and detective stories with a little romance, The Dollmaker is thought-provoking and has an antagonist that is dark and sinister. I’m a fan of the series and looking forward to reading the next book.

Kensington Books, Zebra and Mary Burton provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. The publication date is currently set for December 26, 2023.

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