Hundreds of quick cuts from multiple perspectives present a complex serial-killer case that threatens the personal life of a police detective, and vice versa.
The body of a young woman named Valerie Blake, found in London’s Holland Park, shows signs of ritual abuse as well as sexual assault. The investigating team, headed by Detective Sergeant Stella Mooney (The Dead Sit Round in a Ring, 2004, etc.), soon links the case to a handful of recent murders. The likeliest suspect is a tightly wound voyeur named Robert Kimber. Despite his obliging confession, Stella’s instinct tells her that he’s not the perp. Meanwhile, the far more dangerous Leon Bloss contacts Kimber and becomes his homicidal mentor. With a rising death toll, they establish a new pattern that baffles Stella and her police colleagues. Paralleling the challenges in the case are problems in Stella’s personal life. Having finally left dull, friendly George and suspended her therapy sessions with shrink Anne Beaumont, who works as a profiler on the case, Stella’s blissfully shacked up with equally hard-bitten journalist Delaney. But Delaney’s pursuit of Kimber triggers violent arguments and ultimately creates a rift in their relationship. When Stella turns to DC Maxine Hewitt and her lesbian lover for temporary digs, all three become unwitting targets of the Bloss/Kimber alliance.
More woolgathering than Stella’s first two cases, but Lawrence’s prose remains riveting, and the regulars grow steadily more complex.