Plot summary (with spoilers): Marty Nickerson is a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office in Chatham on Cape Cod, MA. As the novel opens, she’s in the process of putting Manuel Rodriguez away for the brutal murder of 20-year-old Michael Scott. Scott had his skull bashed in, his throat slashed from ear to ear, and had a Roman numeral “I” carved into his chest. The motive was ostensibly robbery, as Rodriguez was picked up with Scott’s cash and possessions. Of course, Rodriguez proclaims innocence, but because of his long rap sheet and the evidence against him, the jury doesn’t buy it. They vote to convict after a long deliberation.
Nickerson feels good about her victory until another body is found. This one turns up on Memorial Day exactly one year after Michael Scott’s body was found. The damage is much the same, and this time there’s a Roman numeral “II” carved into the chest. Nickerson thinks Chatham might have a serial killer on its hands despite the fact that a drifter named Eddie was picked up for this latest crime. She confides this to defense attorney Harry Madigan, who reviews the autopsy photographs and agrees with her. Harry then submits a motion to absolve Rodriguez from the first killing, but the judge rules against him.
From there Harry and Nickerson work together to try to figure out what’s going on. They’re convinced that someone on the inside is manufacturing and planting evidence against the accused, so they set up a surveillance system to help them catch the doer. After a third victim is taken, the cameras do indeed show the killer at work. Nickerson is able to track him down just before he takes victim number 4 — her son Luke.
- This was a quick and easy read that didn’t take a lot of brainpower or concentration to get through. As you can probably tell from the rest of my reviews, these are the sorts of books I favor .
- There were some interesting passages on the workings of the legal system. For instance, I didn’t know that cops can search your car without a warrant if it’s been impounded, and I didn’t know about the “dynamite charge“/absolute certainty speech that some judges give to juries.
- The author included a lot of information that wasn’t necessary for the advancement of the plot and that didn’t give background information about either of the lead characters. For instance, Connors told us in great detail about the case that Marty’s ex-husband was testifying in in Seattle, but that had absolutely zero bearing on Marty’s cases. Similarly, we get a lot of backstory about Geraldine, but nothing about Harry. Hey, why not tell us about that Phoenix Job Search that didn’t pan out or that awful date from two years ago. Those types of things would have been just as relevant!
- Marty Nickerson was forever blushing and flushing whenever Harry was around. Give me a break. She was a full-grown woman, not a schoolgirl with a crush. That description of her feeling her face turn bright red got very old after the fifth instance.
- This was a book where the protagonist wasn’t very proactive at all. There was no real investigation into the killings or anything; Marty simply reacted to other events and people. This made the story kind of boring for me.
- I didn’t think Connors played fair by having the M.E. be the killer. How were readers supposed to figure that out? He flits in and out of a couple of scenes prior to the end, and there just weren’t enough clues to point to him. As a result, making him the killer seemed unfair in a way. And to make the motive be PTSD? Another eye-roll moment for me.
Overall, I thought Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors was an unoriginal entry into the already overflowing crime/thriller genre. There was nothing special about the writing, the plot, or the characters here. If you’ve read a few books in this genre before, then you won’t be wowed by this one. I give it 2 stars out of 5.