A Boston detective’s recurring dream of a bound woman begging for help predicts a murderer who targets female victims in this psychological thriller.
The specifics in homicide detective Gavin McLean’s recurrent dream are generally the same. An unknown woman in a dungeonlike room, tied to a meat hook, tells Gavin, “Don’t let him kill me.” But after he and his new partner, Lucinda “Lou” Barnes, catch the case of Eden James, whom someone brutally raped, murdered, and left in a dumpster, the dream changes significantly. This time, the woman says, “You let him kill her,” leading Gavin to surmise Eden was the first target of a potential serial killer. Sadly, more victims follow, and it’s quickly evident that Gavin somehow knows each one. Thinking the murderer’s watching him, he fears for the women in his life, including Lou, his mom, and his baby sister. The detectives’ subsequent discovery of the likely murder room—a torture device–filled chamber akin to Gavin’s dreams—takes the investigation into the world of S&M. A sudden plot turn, however, pushes Gavin (and the story) deep into his psyche, and before long, his waking life and dreams are nearly impossible to distinguish. Although the twist does shift the narrative’s focus, Gavin’s relationships, particularly with Lou, provide a constant. Inevitable romance between the detectives sparks explicit sex scenes bursting with affection, as they’re generous partners. S&M is likewise treated favorably—it’s a therapeutic act and not at all perverse, as some may believe. The novel’s surreal second half (readers may suspect Gavin’s dreaming even if he doesn’t) temporarily sidelines the murder mystery, and suspense consequently wanes. Meanwhile, Zello’s (Romancing Broadway, 2015, etc.) straightforward but confident prose eases readers through further twists that ultimately become a bit predictable. But the ending throws everything, from characters to the serial-killer plot, into a glorious tailspin that offers both resolution and the hint of a sequel.
A police procedural melds into an illusory journey that’s just as riveting, if not more so.