In a sequel that couldn’t be more different from his appealing debut (The Four Courts Murder, 2005), Nugent gives his Dublin detectives more help than they want in tracking down a corpse’s missing foot.
Working with obvious care and knowledge, someone gave Nigerian restaurateur Shadrack Nwachukwu a hefty dose of anesthesia and amputated his healthy lower leg. But for some reason, the relatively gentle ministrations stopped at that point, for when Shad was found pounding at a door in the dead of night, the stump had been clumsily sutured and covered only with a plastic bag. Why would anyone do such a barbarous thing—and do it with such a combination of expertise and unconcern? The case falls to Sergeant Molly Power and Inspector Jim Quilligan of the Garda Síochána. But even before Quilligan is packed off to Benin in the hope that he can learn more about Shad’s background (was he attacked by the notorious Bakassi Boys, or by the Ogboni, whose name can only be furtively whispered?), it’s clear that the most active sleuth is Shad’s brother Jude, who’s both more motivated than the Garda and less finicky about the justice he’d like to mete out to his brother’s killer.
What shines throughout, however, isn’t the detective work, but the piercing compassion that crosses racial and national lines to embrace everyone who seeks the truth about the evil that left Shad dead.