Another shadowy serial killer battles DS Stella Mooney and her investigative team.
The first victim is a young woman found hanging from a tree above a London street, her body adorned with the cryptic phrase “DIRTY GIRL.” She’s soon followed by a political researcher labeled “FILTHY COWARD,” an editor tagged “LYING BASTARD” and a beheaded schoolteacher marked “HAPPY NOW?” Although the efficient killer has left barely a clue for Stella and her squad (Cold Kill, 2006, etc.), Lawrence wastes no time in revealing his identity to the reader. What remains mysterious to all hands is his motive for selecting these particular victims, dispatching them in the varied ways he’s chosen, leaving behind a signature logo consisting of three V’s and adding those baleful epitaphs, as if he were blaming his targets for their murders. As if the case weren’t tough enough to crack, Stella’s congenial boss, sidelined by a heart attack, has been replaced by an acting DI she’s never liked, and one of the prospective victims the coppers have been assigned to protect seems to be involved in both hush-hush adultery and criminal mischief. Only a feverish brainwave will give Stella the break she needs to dope out the killer’s complex, compelling, but not quite believable motive.
The mystery in Lawrence’s fourth is upstaged by the flavorful portrait of London and the continuing cast, all eminently worth your time.