Everyone who thinks Ian Rankin doesn’t write fast enough should give newcomer Hutton a try.
Relegated to the Welsh boondocks after his misstep causes a death in Cardiff, DS Glyn Capaldi, never one to follow orders anyway, persists in asking where Boon, a young black man, and a female hitchhiker have gone after five local lads say they left following a night of high-spirited debauchery. According to them, Boon planned to take the girl to the ferry to Dublin to meet up with her boyfriend and then return to his military posting. But their story is a little too pat, and when it crumbles, their revision sounds rehearsed and preplanned. Glyn, whose interrogation technique is part punch-up, part blackmail and total intimidation, singles out Trevor as the group’s weakest link. After two prostitutes alibi the lads and Glyn gets treated to a tormented sexual confession, Trevor’s dead body is found hanging from a barn rafter. No longer welcomed in the pub by xenophobic countrymen, and told by his superiors to leave off harassing the boys, Glyn can find solace only in his encounter with Sally, Boon’s adopted mother, whose travails include an ex who absconded with a student and subtle bits of racism aimed at her son. But shortly after Sally and Glyn tentatively reach out for one another, the current husband of Glyn’s ex-wife descends asking for a bit of advice, and investigation shows that more girls than the misplaced hitchhiker have vanished from the village in the past. Convinced that Boon and probably several of the females are dead and possibly buried in the countryside, Glyn makes several incorrect assumptions that lead to a final revenge scenario upending his notions of what good people can be driven to while their friends turn a blind eye.
The sexual peccadilloes are not for the squeamish, but the plot twists are cunning, and Glyn Capaldi is the most appealing antihero this side of John Rebus.