Nick Wilder is a photographer for the Seattle Telegraph newspaper. He's covered a series of grisly murders that appear to be connected, possibly a serial killer the press is calling the Street Butcher. Then one night the Street Butcher hits close to home, attacking and killing Nick's brother Sam. The more Nick investigates, the closer he moves to the answers behind his brother's murder, the more Nick questions his own state of mind, what is real and who, exactly, he can trust.
MANIA is Craig Larsen's debut thriller. It is a fast-paced, dark psychological plot filled with twists and turns. The novel doesn't follow a straight chronological order, instead it bounces around between before Sam's death, after Sam's death, and Nick's childhood. The lack of a straight timeline helps to build the suspense of the novel, but there is nothing that distinguishes where exactly on the timeline each section is. Some points take the reader a paragraph or two to orient where he/she is in the story. Some date headings probably would have been helpful for that element.
Larsen does a nice job of developing Nick's isolation and growing panic. This helps to build dimension in Nick's character. All the characters surrounding Nick seem to throw up red flags at various points in the novel; this also builds the suspense as the reader is left wondering who exactly Nick can trust, just as Nick ponders this same question.
MANIA is a solid debut and I expect we'll be seeing more thrillers from Larsen in the years to come.
MANIA is available in mass market paperback (ISBN: 978-0-7860-2154-3) from Pinnacle Books.