Book Review: Pattern of Wounds

30 Oct

For Detective Roland March, his latest case has become personal. March doesn’t know the young female who was stabbed to death, but he thinks he recognizes the crime scene. Nearly ten years ago, March gained national fame as the subject of a true-crime book. But now this crime scene bears eerie similarities to that one. And whispers begin to emerge that March may have put the wrong man behind bars.

Worse, Houston may now have a serial killer on the loose. As more cases emerge that seem connected, and threats against March and those closest to him build, he must solve the case–rescuing not only the city but his own reputation as a homicide cop.


J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years, earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after one hurricane too many he left for South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.

My Impressions:

I read Mark Bertrand’s first novel, Back on Murder, last year. I also had the opportunity to interview Mark about that book (see interview HERE). I really liked his main character, Roland March, a homicide detective in Houston. March is a man haunted by the past, not quite able to get past his losses. In Pattern of Wounds, March is back still deviled by the ghosts of his past. This time, March investigates a case that is staged to look like the murder that made his career some 10 years before. And because of the similarities, the present becomes inescapably linked to what happened before — 10 and 40 years before.

Pattern of Wounds is first a gritty, complex, dark and suspense-filled novel. This is not your grandmother’s Christian fiction. The crimes are gruesome and the characters’ responses range from flawed to downright evil. But, this is a story of real life  — real life emotions, real life despair, and a bit of real life hope, although in small doses. March is not a Christian and not interested. But he has Christians in his life who continue to love him. Generally well-written, Pattern of Wounds was a bit slow at times. I wanted to hurry the action along. But Bertrand is writing about real life here — never as neat and tidy as novels are wont to show.

I recommend Pattern of Wounds to anyone wanting an intelligent suspense novel with characters that defy stereotypes. The next book in the Roland March Mystery series is Nothing to Hide, and it is near the top of my TBR pile. Look for that review before the end of the year.


(I bought Pattern of Wounds as a Christmas present for my husband.)

One Response to “Book Review: Pattern of Wounds”


  1. Book Review: Nothing to Hide « BY THE BOOK - December 13, 2012

    […] yet. Homicide Detective Roland March is first introduced in Back on Murder. His story continued in Pattern of Wounds. March lives in a world that is very much black and white, right and wrong. And while his rules are […]

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