The Past Meets Fiction | The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore

Friday, August 13, 2021

 The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore

Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Pages: 384
Source: publisher (Thank you!) in exchange for an honest review

Stalking Jack the Ripper meets Devil in the White City. In order to save her sister, Zuretta takes a job at a notorious house of horrors—but she might never escape. Zuretta never thought she’d encounter a monster—one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. She had resigned herself to a quiet life in Utah. But when her younger sister, Ruby, travels to Chicago during the World’s Fair, and disappears, Zuretta leaves home to find her. But 1890s Chicago is more dangerous and chaotic than she imagined. She doesn’t know where to start until she learns of her sister’s last place of employment…a mysterious hotel known as The Castle. Zuretta takes a job there hoping to learn more. And before long she realizes the hotel isn’t what it seems. Women disappear at an alarming rate, she hears crying from the walls, and terrifying whispers follow her at night. In the end, she finds herself up against one of the most infamous mass murderers in American history—and his custom-built death trap.

Sisters, Zuretta and Ruby, have always dreamed of leaving their small town and making a name for themselves in the big city. It was always just a dream. Until one night, Ruby decides to leave and put her big dreams into motion. Zuretta remains content for a while, happy to receive Ruby’s letters of her big adventures in Chicago. When Ruby’s letters stop coming, however, Zuretta starts to worry. Convinced that something horrific has befallen her sister, Zuretta makes the journey from Utah to Chicago to find Ruby. However, Zuretta finds something much more sinister than first anticipated. Based on a real-life serial killer case, The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore is a classic whodunit mystery.

  • The mystery is afoot. While I adore reading murder mysteries to immerse myself in a developing mystery that reveals itself the more the story continues, this isn't really that. While Zuretta befalls some hardships, I couldn't help but think that most of the events of the novel were way too convenient. She barely had to walk several feet out her hotel and already a Pinkerton of the renowned detective agency wanted to help solve her case. She barely does any of the sleuthing at all before the mystery of her missing sister is placed before her on a platter. 
  • The story was quite predictable and I guessed whodunit long before it was officially revealed. 
  • Unfortunately, the writing was just not for me. I didn't connect as much to the story as I had hoped. 
  • The characters were quite flat. With Zuretta, there wasn't any connection between reader and protagonist. Zuretta seemed to just be going through the motions, without providing readers with any semblance of personality. While readers were meant to care about finding Ruby, it was difficult to care since every character was two-dimensional and sounded like the same person. 
  • The action sequences left much to be desired. To be honest, the flat characters coupled with the lackluster action made for a tediously slow story.
  • The premise of the novel sounds riveting but the execution left something to be desired. It follows a fictional narrative of a real-life serial killer in Chicago. If you follow real-life serial killers in crime and thriller podcasts, you may enjoy this one. The way in which this was written seems like it was meant for those who already know the nonfictional case that it's based on. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the case before going into this novel. The author’s note provided some insight into the real-life case. The fictional dramatization of the murders connected the past with fiction. Yet, the mix of fact and fiction did not seem to mesh well, leaving the plot a bit disjointed and flat.
  • Despite the novel’s shortcomings, the ending was empowering. While I was not routing for any of the characters, the ending turned out to still be a satisfying one. 
With its real-life murder case and satisfying ending, The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore is a  thriller that fans of crime podcasts will definitely enjoy.

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