I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
THE ORPHAN MASTER is one of those rare books that combines a love of historical novels with a love of serial killer/murder mysteries. The story takes place in the late 1600s in the New World Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Blandine van Couvering is an orphan who has grown up to be a formidable and beautiful female trader. Edward Drummond is a British spy who has traveled to the colony to track down some individuals who conspired to murder the former king. The colony is in an uproar as orphan children begin showing up dead and mutilated. Rumor has it that a demon called a witika is responsible for the deaths. The indigenous population believes in witika demons who possess people and turn them into cannibals. Blandine and Edward are thrown together in their search for the murderer of the children as the colony is a place for orphans have no advocate but the local Orphan Master. Is the Orphan Master responsible for these deaths or is there really a demon on the loose?
It was very hard to put this book down as I was desperate to discover who the killer was. I felt at times that Zimmerman was a little too heavy-handed with her hints. It became fairly obvious who the killer was fairly early on. However, the killer's motivation doesn't really become clear until the end when all is revealed. I liked the historical details within the novel as I didn't know much about this period of time in American history. I thought it was especially interesting to see how Blandine was treated as a young women attempting to infiltrate a man's world. The love story within the book was a bit off-putting. It felt unnecessary and, to me, detracted from the more exciting storyline.
I want to STRONGLY warn you that this book is not for the faint of heart. If you read and were comfortable with the violence within GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO, you will probably be fine. However, this is pretty horrific violence directed towards children and I want to warn off anyone who may have trouble with that.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This would make a terrific vacation read for fans of serial killer thrillers. A little history, a little romance and whole lot of action and suspense.
To see a trailer for the book, please go here.