Brushing off archival dust, a genealogist helps nab a serial killer.
Corpses with a mysterious mix of letters and numbers carved onto their naked chests are turning up with alarming frequency, baffling London’s Metropolitan Police until Detective Sergeant Heather Jenkins has a brainstorm. Something about the look and alignment of the carvings suddenly makes her think of index references—an idea that reminds her of cards her mom filled out during her recent research into family history. Heather’s boss, Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster, is old school and proud of it. He takes a predictably dim view of genealogy: “Bloody stupid hobby.” Stuck between a rock and a clueless place, however, he agrees to accompany Heather on a visit to family historian Nigel Barnes, who has his own reasons for being glad to see them. Professional and romantic disappointments have made him eager for a challenge. As the cops and the genealogist talk, they find themselves unexpectedly compatible, and Nigel ends up with his challenge and a part-time job. He digs into musty birth, marriage and death certificates, making connections and disinterring long-buried secrets and lies. Along the way he experiences anew the unsettling ways the past can serve as prologue and a series of century-old murders can become terrifyingly contemporary.
A strong debut offering a fresh, intriguing spin on the police procedural.