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Publisher's Summary

Philadelphia police detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are working a new beat: the Special Investigations Unit, aka the cold case squad. Ironic, given that it's the height of a blazing hot August. But even these hardened homicide veterans are chilled to the bone as a dormant murder case stirs to life - leading Byrne and Balzano into the dark heart of their city, their souls, and a psyche of pure evil.

Months before, a teenage runaway's body was found in the desolate, dangerous North Philly district dubbed the Badlands. Dead runaways were no novelty on these mean streets, but the Caitlin O'Riordan case was different. Her corpse was found in the basement of a rancid tenement apartment, the inexplicable cause of death: drowning. In the end, nothing was solved and the case was closed.

Now, a confession to the bizarre murder on the police tipline sends Byrne and Balzano rushing to make an arrest. But instead of a killer, they discover a ghastly scene: a jar containing human remains - along with a cryptic clue leading to an unlikely witness. Laura Somerville lives far from the squalor of the Badlands, and seemingly light-years from any connection to a murdered runaway. But moments after discussing the case with this elegant lady, Byrne and Balzano make another grisly discovery, and find an enigmatic word spelled out in Scrabble tiles.

Across town, another victim's shallow grave reveals deeper mysteries. Her secret diaries portray a woman haunted by a shocking past, and obsessed with finding a depraved killer.

Now, as the body count grows, a terrifying design literally takes shape. Pieces of a gruesome puzzle are being set into place by the cruel hands of a madman using the city as his game board. His playthings are the innocent, and his opponents - and pawns - are Byrne and Balzano, who must, before time runs out, decipher the truth about a shadowy house of horrors and its elusive master.

Internationally acclaimed author Richard Montanari works his b...

©2008 Richard Montanari (P)2008 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Montanari seems poised to take his place on the top ranks of the mystery field." ()

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lupo
  • 07-05-2009

Good with some left dangling

I enjoyed this book and loved Scott Brick's narration. The style is very similar to Montanari's other works. He did a great job developing a complex villian. I did feel like he left too many loose ends in a continued effort to add depth to Byrne and Balzano. Pieces were introduced, such as the meeting with the ex-wife, and then not discussed further. Overall though, a good read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kimberly Allen
  • 04-04-2016

Overwritten, overperformed

I'm on my third Montenari book and while I find he has some of the most creative and complex villains I've ever read, I find his prose borders on purple...just too overwritten. Uses three similar phrases to drive home a point that he's made in one. And after three books performed by Scott Brick, I think I'll read my future Montenari mysteries in book form, rather than audible. He is So. Dramatic. Pause for Effect. Emphasize THAT point. This. Is. Important. While his overacting is probably a perfect match for the purple prose, it just drives me nuts. Gaaaaaah!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lauren
  • 04-01-2016

A Disheartened Scott Brick and Confusing Time Line

What made the experience of listening to Badlands the most enjoyable?

I have been on a Richard Montanari kick as of late and I have greatly enjoyed all the books in his series without question, until this one. Scott Brick seems un-enthused, which is unusual because he is always a joy to listen to, and the timeline for this book jumps backwards at a few points, which confused me, so I had to re-listen to capture what exactly had happened.

The story made this experience enjoyable.

What did you like best about this story?

The descriptive details that paint beautiful and haunting images in the mind.

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I love Scott Brick's voice. His Impressions and ability to create a unique voice for each character really makes the story come alive for me. It's like listening to a movie with your eyes closed.

Unfortunately, I feel like his heart wasn't all in for this one. His 'Philly' accent for the primary characters comes and goes, and characters from previous books have completely different tangs, which threw me off.

He usually adds edge to his voice when certain events are happening, or changes the inflection of things to add mystery to it all, but for most of this book it felt let he was uninterested, if not bored, with the story.

Still a good listen, but not his best work.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Freaking Magicians."

Any additional comments?

What's up with "The Echo Man" and "The Killing Room"?

Why are they unavailable? And why is no one poking Scott Brick with a money stick to get a move on?

He did the "Stolen Ones". Why skip two whole books?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dee Dee Bee
  • 11-07-2015

Great listening experience!

This author was recommended reading on the Audible website-and I am thrilled to have found him! Badlands did not disappoint me! Full of twists and turns; suspense, creative storytelling and relationship building between the 2 lead characters. Scott Brick continues to excel. His performance amazes and delights. Listening to a book, rather than reading one, has become my addiction!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Therese
  • 17-04-2018

Marvelous

Any story read by Scott Brick is enthralling but combine these: author and narrator, wonderful.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Shirley
  • 23-02-2018

Young girls are not aware of the evil lurking around them!

One would wish that there is no evil like the main character, that it would only be the imagination of the authoe, bit sadly evil person do exist. Well written and a very good narrator. Makes one wonder how homicide detectives can do their jobs and stay sane.
Well written to shine the light on how young people must be vigilant, unfortunately not enough young people will read or listen to begin to ponder the evil around!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David W Cochrane
  • 19-12-2017

Another creepy villian one loves to hate.



This installment of Byrne and Balzano series shows the author's never ending talent at making creepy bad guys. This guy is a master of disguise and Byrne meets with him and has coffee. But no more spoilers. I certainly hope Richard Montanari is awake when these characters invade his brain.

One has to pay attention to keep track of the various stories and events from the past. Which girl is still living and which ones were killed in the past. A bit of revenge thrown in for good measure. Balzano is still a crash trough the door first and signal for backup later girl. I enjoy strong female characters.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • bethom2011
  • 24-10-2017

Finished

I couldn't put it down, so I finished it in one sitting. Now I have to find another good book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • linda lewis
  • 19-01-2017

Read it my friends

Is a copy of can't put it down. You will not be able to tell your friends. I'm telling you I love this author.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Greg Kennedy
  • 21-03-2016

One of the best Montanari has written so far

Loved it. Very good story. Excellent performance by Mr. Brick. Robert is doing a great job of filling our the Balzac and Byrne story lines.