Gabriella Giovanni, police reporter for a daily newspaper in the San Francisco Bay area, is passionate about her work; but a younger colleague is trying to steal her job, and her boss is eager to push her out.
So there’s a lot at stake for Gabriella when a big story, the kidnapping and murder of a little girl named Jasmine, happens on her beat. It’s the sort of story that can be emotionally draining for any reporter, but it’s a lot tougher on Gabriella, who’s still suffering from survivor guilt over the childhood kidnapping and murder of her older sister Caterina.
The story gets tougher still when a cab driver named Jack Dean Johnson, the only suspect in Jasmine’s kidnapping, refuses to speak with anyone but Gabriella. He intimates that he’s killed dozens of little girls. And one of them, he hints, just might have been Caterina.
That is the premise of Blessed Are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino, a crime novel so skillfully executed that it’s hard to believe it’s her debut.
In Gabriella, the author has created a compelling, utterly believable character who is at once vulnerable and tough as they come. The supporting cast, including the police detectives, the cunning villain, and denizens of the newsroom, spring to life from the page. The plot is as suspenseful as they come. And the gritty prose, distinguished by short, muscular sentences, is truly first-rate.
Belcamino’s own experience as a police reporter infuses her story with realism. She covered some high-profile cases including the Laci Peterson murder and the disappearance of Chandra Levy. And she also reported on a serial killer linked to the murders of little girls, a case that inspired the novel.
Blessed Are the Dead, intended as the first in a series of novels about Gabriella Giovanni, is scheduled to be released by William Morrow on June 10.