Reluctantly assigned to a joint task force with the FBI and CIA, a British detective must relive the worst case of her career as a copycat killer appears determined to match the prior perp’s carnage on both sides of the pond.
In this jumbled, excessively violent follow-up to Ragdoll, (2017), DCI Emily Baxter, still smarting from her physical and emotional wounds, wants nothing more to do with the Ragdoll case, allegedly linked to her friend and fellow cop William Fawkes, who’s disappeared. But she’s given little choice when her boss assigns her to assist FBI Special Agent Elliot Curtis and CIA Special Agent Damien Rouche on a multinational operation after a corpse is found strung up on the Brooklyn Bridge that bears a striking resemblance to the Ragdoll victims. Baxter travels with Curtis and Rouche to New York, where they find that the similarities to the Ragdoll case are superficial and they’re looking for someone with a greater reach. Baxter, perpetually the petulant child of the three, seems to want only to drink away her miseries back in London, while Rouche and Curtis have their own agendas. Bodies begin to pile up—some with “bait” and some with “puppet” carved into their chests—and acts of domestic terrorism, from a church massacre to a possible attack on a London Tube station, increase, with the investigators no closer to catching the person, or group, responsible. Cole quickly deflates any suspense he may have built up by the sheer number of grisly incidents he crams into the narrative, making the reader numb or, worse, bored by the loss of life. Even the denouement feels as staged as one of the kills, constructed more to draw attention to the carnage than the story.
Forgettable characters slogging, sometimes literally, through a pile of corpses makes for dull reading, even for readers looking for a bloody thrill.