A flawed but feisty Glasgow prosecutor goes her own way to find a serial killer.
Two bodies lying next to each other, one reaching out in death toward the other’s hand, make an incongruous scene on a pretty spring morning in the Kelvingrove neighborhood. Worse, the victims are just boys, and their faces are beaten almost beyond recognition. Maddalena "Maddy" Benedetti di Rio Shannon, a principal deputy prosecutor, is used to brutal crime scenes, but this one hurts to look at, and not just because she’s hung over. She’s at the scene only as a courtesy; DI Alan Coulter and his team are supposed to gather the evidence, Maddy to prepare it for trial. But something haunts her about the murders, especially when the post-mortem reveals that the boys had crosses carved around their mouths, whether in punishment for snitching or for some other reason. The jogger who found them lagged just far enough behind his business partner that the partner might have had time to kill the boys and then act surprised. Coulter’s money is on an ex-IRA hit man, now working as a gardener, with connections to both the boys and a missing teenage girl. While Maddy’s trying to sort out the case, with the help and after-hours companionship of a New York cop pursuing serial murders on his beat, she must also cope with her grandfather’s stroke and the clerics clustered around his bedside. Her conviction that Coulter is too focused on the gardener and not enough on other suspects leads Maddy to a couple of possibly career-ending moves and an unexpected discovery—not to mention proof that at least one of her intuitions has a basis in tragic fact.
Although native Glaswegians will have a decided advantage in parsing the dialect and local color, outsiders will find plenty to keep them guessing in Dolan’s complex, perceptive crime debut.