Five by Ursula Archer

Five by Ursula Archer


A woman’s corpse is discovered in a meadow. A strange combination of letters and numbers has been tattooed on the soles of her feet. Detective inspector Beatrice Kaspary from the local murder squad quickly identifies the digits as map coordinates. These lead to a series of gruesome discoveries as she and her colleague Florin Wenninger embark on a bloody trail – a modern-day scavenger hunt using GPS navigation devices to locate hidden caches. The “owner” of these unofficial, unpublished geocaches is a highly calculating and elusive fiend who leaves his victims’ body-parts sealed in plastic bags, complete with riddles that culminate in a five-stage plot. Kaspary herself becomes an unwilling pawn in the perpetrator’s game of cat and mouse as she risks all to uncover the motives behind the murderer’s actions. Five is definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, but it delivers great suspense, unexpected plot twists, and multi-dimensional characters.

Five: A Novel
Ursula Archer
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication: December 2014
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat library
Rated: ★★★★

Five by Ursula Archer

A murder mystery that instantly captures your attention with an unwilling act of murder in the prologue, only to find the murderer murdered in the opening chapter. Five by Ursula Archer is a well paced mystery thriller that keeps readers guessing until near the end. It also provides an interesting and unique idea to the murder where geocaching figures prominently.

Lead investigators are Beatrice Kaspary, a divorced woman with an angry ex-husband and a bitter custody dispute, and her partner Florin Wenninger, loyal and stoic. The two work under a misogynist simply named Hoffman, who constantly belittles Beatrice, ignoring any progress she makes in the case. A case that sees multiple seemingly unconnected victims murdered in unique ways, oftimes with some form of disfigurement or dismemberment, in under a fortnight.

Not only does Five by Ursula Archer present a compelling murder mystery, it also presents us with strong characters full of depth. Beatrice struggles to find a balance between her two young children needing her at home, against a heavy workload full of gruesome acts of violence. Florin has to play mediator between his superior and his partner while finding the time to spend with his significant other. It is this duo that really propels the story forward and sells it for me. I am wondering if it is possible this is the start of a mystery/thriller series. There is so much left to explore between Florian and Beatrice, as well as Beatrice and her ex-husband. I want to see what happens to them, to their working relationship, whether it stays at the friendship they had started to develop, or becomes something more.

There was one slight criticism I had about the novel. Perhaps it was only because I am a crime documentary/crime show junkie, but there are certain things that frustrated me about how Beatrice and the police went about trying to solve the case. Within the first half of the novel, I was already wondering why they hadn’t run a search in the general area of the murders as to significant events that had happened five years ago. The clues the killer gave them all had something to do with five years ago. Five years ago one person had a breakdown. Five years ago another person change so and so. That seems like it’d be one of the first steps. Then, they waited until the very end to try and find out if the people they had been looking into somehow knew each other through geocaching. Nora Papenberg’s husband said he didn’t know if she did that, but said it seemed like something should would have liked. Did they not think that she might have done it before they had met and married? Or done it without telling him? Another said she had no idea what her husband’s hobbies were, but it could be geocaching.

That said, it was still a great novel. I definitely would recommend Five by Ursula Archer to any mystery/thriller buffs and honestly hope Ms. Archer follows this book up with another featuring Florin and Beatrice.

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About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and the three cats with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.