Preston and Child’s (The Obsidian Chamber, 2016, etc.) eccentric FBI special agent A.X.L. Pendergast is still on his boss's bad side, which means his next assignment is to aid in what seems to be a routine, albeit bloody, New York City murder investigation.
The victim is Grace Ozmian, a tech billionaire’s daughter, and she’s been decapitated. She was a coke-fueled party girl, and her father has a reputation as “a world class prick,” so there should be plenty of suspects. Then, the killer soon to be known as the Decapitator takes more victims: a shady mob lawyer; a married couple scamming people with distressed mortgages; and, oddly, a Nigerian woman who had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Donning his handmade John Lobb shoes and strapping on a Les Baer 1911 Colt .45, Pendergast joins Lt. Cmdr. Detective Squad Vincent D’Agosta, a regular cohort, in the investigation. Interference comes from a believably sketched reporter with the WASPy name of Harriman, credentialed by Choate and Dartmouth, who’s attempting to resurrect his career with a tabloid column. Series newcomers may stumble over the minimal back story provided on the brilliant loner that is Pendergast, all pale skin and gaunt frame, and might be somewhat confused by his Riverside Drive mansion, three apartments in the Dakota, and vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith driven by a taciturn factotum named Proctor. Set in the weeks before Christmas, the book has a nice sense of chilly city winds and snow-piled streets, but the atmosphere grows far more foreboding when Pendergast tracks the killer to an abandoned psychiatric hospital on Long Island.
One of the best in the series—tense and tightly wound, with death relentlessly circling, stalking, lurking behind every shadow.