F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.
To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.
The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.
– S & S –
The Rites of Azathoth Review
Oh Cthulhu there was so much about this book I loved. I loved the main plot of the story. The Lovecraftian Mythos was worked in perfectly. It didn’t jar at all or feel like the author just skimmed Lovecraft’s works just to be able to throw in a reference now and then. It all flowed smoothly and naturally. I loved it. The action parts were gripping. Especially in the last few chapters. Luther Vayne was an awesome character. I’d tell you more but, nope, sorry. You’ll just have to see for yourself. The other side characters were great as well. I particularly liked Carter. I would have liked Ariadne more if she had been a tad more fleshed out. There were also no gratuitous sex scenes, which I was very thankful for.
This book was sooo close to being a 5 Skull read for me. So why wasn’t it? I have one word to sum it up.
I could not stand her. She was a bitch to Ariadne, the one friend she has. She sucks as an agent and as a human being. All she does is snarl, sneer, narrow her eyes, glare and (in a really weird context) leers. I’m not saying a character has to be pleasant all of the time for me to like them but she seemed to have a chip the size of a boulder on her shoulder for no discernible reason. Even with her friend. I found myself cringing and sighing in just about every scene she was in. She’s not a badass. Unless you count beating up someone who’s already cuffed a badass. There’s going to be a minor spoiler here, if you’d like to see it just highlight to read. It’s not much of a spoiler, really. It deals with one very specific scene in the last chapter. Diana, who is not a field agent and has been running on no sleep or food for four days, gets in a fight with a well-trained Major. He’s been shot once, in the thigh. She’s been shot also, in the lower torso. They get into a fight where he’s armed with a knife and she is unarmed. After some parries in which he cuts her at least four or five times, she makes a dive for him, he punches her and shatters her jaw. Then turns slightly to slice her friend up. With that slight turn of the head she manages to disarm him and then kill him. End of Spoiler. I think my eyes might have rolled so hard they almost fell out of my head. Even if this had been a male character I wouldn’t buy it. Especially a desk agent. Sorry, I just couldn’t buy it. The injuries also seem to have no effect on her at all. I think it’d be kind of hard to talk with a shattered jaw but she manages just fine. Making her an active field agent would have gone a long way to making this at least somewhat believable.
On a more technical note there were some odd word choices that pulled me out occasionally. One made me giggle out loud. There were also a few typos here and there. There are also weirdly italicized sentences and parts of sentences. Nothing major to make it unreadable or anything but the author might want to just skim back through to correct them. It did drag a bit near the 80% mark. At that time you know what’s going on and you just want to get on with it and get to the awesome finale that you know is coming.
Which it is. Frank Cavallo has an amazing talent for setting a scene vividly and clearly. The action scenes were clear and not muddled at all. You knew exactly what was going on all the time. They were also vivid. I honestly can’t praise this aspect enough. I’ve run across a lot of scenes in other books where you can’t tell hat’s going on or with who. Then there are others that are so dispassionate it’s like reading a manual. He sidesteps these flaws with ease and paints it so clearly that I could see the battle. And it was glorious.
My major issue was with Diana and a few poor word choices. Other than those though I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to most people. Even if you haven’t read Lovecraft the story will still draw you in. In other words, you don’t have to be well-versed in the Cthulhu Mythos to enjoy the book. Lovecraft fans, however, will get a kick out of all the references so there’s tasty goodness for both sides of the spectrum.
4 Skulls out of 5