Sean Slater- Snakes and Ladders

Snakes & LaddersDetective Jacob Striker has had more than his fair share of brushes with death. But this one really shocks him. When he is called to attend a suicide at a decrepit apartment on the bad side of town, he expects to find one more life lost to mental illness and drug addiction. But this time the victim is not just another sad statistic, this time it’s someone Striker knows. And one thing is obvious to Striker: this wasn’t suicide. Striker’s investigation quickly leads him to the Riverglen Mental Health Facility. The victim was a patient from the support group overseen by psychiatrist Dr Erich Ostermann. And when Striker discovers Larisa Logan – a dear friend of his, and also a patient of Dr Ostermann – has gone missing, his investigation goes into overdrive. Racing against time and a chilling adversary, Striker searches desperately for Larisa. It is a dangerous game they play, where one throw of the dice can catapult you to a place of dominance – or send you sliding to your doom…

The follow up thriller from Sean Slater to the excellent debut ‘The Survivor’ and Jacob Striker, the renegade Vancouver Homicide Detective is back investigating a series of suspicious suicides linked to the Riverglen Mental Health Facility. Under the auspices of the well-respected psychiatrist Dr Ostermann, Striker delves deeper into the workings of this institution to discover why some of its most vulnerable patients have become murder victims and sets about saving another patient struggling to avoid the clutches of a determined killer. The book is punctuated with vignettes charting the working of the killer’s mind as Striker and his feisty female partner Felicia delve deeper into the family life of Dr Ostermann and discover the dark secrets that lie within…

Drawing on his own background as a Vancouver police officer in some of the toughest neighbourhoods, Slater has created a truly plausible and likeable character in Striker. I love the way that any renegade action Striker undertakes is loosely based on his credo of ‘extigent circumstances’ that backs up his often foolhardy but well-intentioned actions to trap the killer, dragging the more circumspect Felicia in his wake as the voice of reason. Striker makes no effort to pacify his superiors and remains single-minded and determined throughout the course of the book despite the physical risks to himself and Felicia whose personal relationship with her partner is sometimes tricky in the light of their on/off romantic entanglement. Luckily this gives another added frission to the plot instead of being irritating as happens too often in crime thrillers.

The plot is well-constructed although I did guess the killer well in advance of the close of the book and my only real criticism of the book generally is that it is maybe 50 or so pages too long as certain sections seemed a little drawn out and covering the same ground from a different angle. However, having said that I have recommended this book to others and have had positive feedback leading them to seek out ‘The Survivor’ as well. All in all a good read,  perfect for fans of Chris Carter and Richard Montanari and any reader who likes a more violent and darker crime read..

Find out more about author Sean Slater here:

(‘Snakes and Ladders’  published by Simon & Schuster)


  1. I’m not one to reach first for a violent, dark read, but this one looks interesting. It looks as though there are some well-developed characters, and that’s tricky to do in a ‘thriller’ context. Thanks for the recommendation.

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