Simms (A Price to Pay, 2014, etc.) kicks off a new series about a Manchester detective who, after benefiting from early promotion, can’t catch a break.
Ever been so annoyed by someone nattering away on a neighboring seat aboard public transit that you wanted to kill them? Well, an electrician fired from his vocational teaching post for slapping a student has taken the idea one step further. He tracks women whose cellphone whining annoys him to their homes, poses as a deliveryman to gain access, smothers them, cuts out their tongues, and shoves their precious phones between their dead jaws. DC Sean Blake, who’s just joined the Serious Crimes Unit of the Greater Manchester Police, wishes he could be part of the hunt for the killer of four women—a fifth corpse has yet to be discovered—but he’s been sidelined after being unjustly accused of cowardly inaction in the unsuccessful attempt to bring in Ian Cahill, the unit’s primary suspect. What makes Sean’s enforced pencil-pushing even worse is his realization that his posting to Serious Crimes at 22 was due not to his brilliance or hard work but to a favor his mother, former police sergeant Janet Blake, called in from her old mate ACC Tony Shipton, who’s owed her ever since her heroic pursuit of a runaway criminal condemned her to a wheelchair and her own paper-pushing job gathering information for transport surveys. Sean would like nothing better than to identify the killer on his own, but his most promising ideas all seem to come from his mother.
A routine setup distinguished by Simms’ decision to strip away all the extra bits, his skill at ratcheting up the tension, his insights into tracking criminals in a culture in which public surveillance is the norm, and his predictable but inspired choice of the killer’s climactic target.