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The Mentor (The Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy) by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli


What if someone you love is a serial killer?

DCI Eric Shaw, leading a forensic team at Scotland Yard, together with DI Miriam Leroux from a Murder Investigation Team, is investigating the death of a known offender. Killed by two gunshots: one to his neck, execution style, but preceded by another to his groin, implying a more personal motive.

Shaw’s attention at work is often distracted by a young forensic investigator, Adele Pennington, who is a beautiful woman over two decades his junior. However, his attraction to her is unreciprocated.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the London police, an anonymous blog describes the details of a very similar crime. The author of the blog signs herself as Mina, like one of the victims in a case Shaw investigated many years ago.

Twenty years ago Eric saved her.
Who will save him now?

Meet DCI Eric Shaw . . . and his pupil.


Once again, I’m thrilled to be reading about another serial killer. This time the killer is elusive and the author had me guessing until the very shocking and unusual cliffhanger ending.

DCI Eric Shaw leads a very thorough and savvy forensic team at Scotland Yard including his goddaughter, DI Miriam Laroux, Jane Hall, his deputy, and the evasive and attractive forensic officer Adele Pennington. When a serial killer strikes, Eric and his team steadily close in on the culprit who appears to have a connection to a horrible twenty-year-old triple homicide case that Eric was a part of. Could it be the last person Eric thinks could have done this? 

The story opens with a terrifying event told by a 7-year-old child. It then continues on told from DCI Shaw’s and the killer’s points of view. Eric is a forty-nine-year-old divorcee who is trying to get past his loneliness and having to see his teenage son only twice a month. In the meantime, he is fighting his attraction to the much younger Adele who appears to feel the same. I’m not a fan of age-gap affairs, so that didn’t sit well with me. But it is important to the story. The killer posts to a blog about their feelings and how and why they are murdering the victims. Did the victims deserve it after what they did 20 years ago? Why did the killer wait so long? It will become clear toward the very surprising ending.

Overall, it is an entertaining read. The author does a great job misleading the reader by throwing in twists and turns. The characters are intriguing and I can’t wait to read the rest of this trilogy and find out how the author continues the suspense.

Thank you to Ms. Monticelli for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.


The Mentor Book Cover

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Johnson’s sunken eyes challenged Miriam. ‘You have no proof,’ he said calmly, his thin face contracting slightly. ‘And this friend and foe game won’t work with me. I came here of my own free will, but I’m not bound to stay, unless you bring a formal charge against me.’

She kept watching him, some kind of detached curiosity on her face.

Otherwise, you’re going to have to deal with my lawyer.’

Without raising his gaze from the file, Eric took out a photograph and put it on the table in front of Johnson.

The man froze. ‘What is it supposed to be?’

These are your fingerprints,’ Eric said at last, abandoning his long silence. ‘We found them on the murder weapon.’

The suspect seemed to stop breathing for a moment. Then he shook his head. ‘It’s a trick!’ he shouted, moving the photograph away. ‘My fingerprints are not on the murder weapon.’

Are they?’ Eric turned his eyes straight on him. ‘How come? Perhaps because you wore gloves?’

Johnson smiled. ‘You’re bluffing. You have nothing.’

So if I test your right hand for gunpowder residue, it’ll come back negative, won’t it?’

The other man barely kept himself from grimacing. He seemed pensive now.

Eric knew well the reason for that change in his behaviour. Just the day before, the suspect had fired a shot into the air to scare off some stray dogs near a house he was watching. He’d reported it to the company he worked for, to justify the missing bullet. The test would come back positive in any case. And that was precisely what Eric and Miriam were counting on, even though it didn’t necessarily mean that the residue would be compatible with the bullet recovered from the corpse of the victim. But Johnson wasn’t a forensic scientist. Perhaps they would never go to trial.

I use guns every day for work.’ Johnson closed his eyelids for a moment. Every part of his body was committed to show a calm he certainly didn’t possess.

Ah!’ Miriam exclaimed with ill-concealed sarcasm.

Eric gestured to her with one outspread hand. He was maintaining the composed attitude of someone who had everything under control. He knew that this made suspects nervous, especially when they were guilty. And Johnson was no doubt guilty. He had escaped justice too many times for lack of proof, but this would be the decisive one. With just a gentle push, they’d be able to lock him up; and the fact he’d recently used his gun at work had given them the opportunity to apply that push.

The fact remains that we found your fingerprints on the weapon. And from what I understand, the gunpowder residue test will come back positive.’ He glanced at the suspect, letting his lips relax and express his satisfaction. ‘You were seen near the victim’s home the day before his murder. Perhaps you were reviewing the final details of your plan?’

My fingerprints aren’t on the weapon,’ Johnson said, looking his accuser in the eye.

No? Are you sure?’

They are not there.’ He’d pronounced those words one by one.

Indeed, they were not there, because no doubt he’d worn gloves. Or at least they hadn’t been there when the police had picked up the weapon from the scene, but they were definitely there now. They were registered in IDENT1, the digital fingerprints database of the United Kingdom, because of his job, so that he could be ruled out in case of any breaking and entering in the premises he was keeping under surveillance. Moreover, they were available in the military database, but fortunately, they hadn’t needed to go that far to obtain them. Otherwise, such a move would not have passed unnoticed. Then, for an expert in evidence like Eric Shaw, it hadn’t been difficult at all to make those fingerprints emerge on that weapon.


Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli Author PhotoRita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian science fiction and thriller author. She has lived in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) since 1993, earning a degree in biology and working as a writer, scientific and literary translator, and freelance web copywriter. In the past she also worked as researcher, tutor and professor’s assistant in the field of ecology at ‘Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia’ of the University of Cagliari. She has written original fiction since 2009.

In 2012-2013 she wrote and published a hard science fiction series set on Mars and titled Deserto rosso. The whole Deserto rosso series was also published as omnibus in December 2013 and hit No. 1 on the Italian Kindle Store in November 2014. Deserto rosso was published in English, with the title Red Desert, between 2014 and 2015. It includes the following books: Red Desert – Point of No Return, Red Desert – People of Mars, Red Desert – Invisible Enemy, and Red Desert – Back Home. She also authored three crime thrillers in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy – The Mentor (Il mentore, 2014), Syndrome (Sindrome, 2016), and Beyond the Limit (Oltre il limite, 2017) –, an action thriller titled Kindred Intentions (Affinità d’intenti, 2015), five more science fiction novels – L’isola di Gaia (2014), Per caso (2015), Ophir. Codice vivente (2016), Sirius. In caduta libera (2018), and Nave stellare Aurora (2020) – and a non-fiction book titled Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore (2020).

Her crime thriller The Mentor was first published in English by AmazonCrossing in 2015 and became an international bestseller hitting No. 1 on the Kindle Store in USA, UK, and Australia in October 2015.  This is a new edition of The Mentor (published in November 2022). The other two books in the trilogy, Syndrome and Beyond the Limit, are expected in 2023.

She’s also a podcaster at FantascientifiCast, an Italian podcast about science fiction, an Italian Representative of Mars Initiative, and a member of the International Thriller Writers organization.

She’s often a guest both in Italy and abroad during book fairs, including Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino (Turin Book Fair) and Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair), local publishing events as well as university conferences, where she gives speeches about self-publishing and genre fiction writing. She has also taught a class on self-publishing at the University of Insubria (Varese, Italy) since 2016.

Her books have been reviewed or recommended by national magazines and newspapers such as Wired Italia, Tom’s Hardware Italia, La Repubblica, Tiscali News and Global Science (magazine of the Italian Space Agency).

As a science fiction and Star Wars fan, she is known in the Italian online community by her nickname, Anakina, which has become the name of her imprint.

Follow Rita on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her website.


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