Journalist O’Donovan launches a new series with the tale of a Dublin assailant whose crimes give the Troubles and Ireland’s current economic crisis stiff competition.
English-language student Jesica [sic] Mellado Salazar, 16, is walking home when she’s grabbed by a man in a van and brutally assaulted. For all the horrific details, the crime would be routine if she weren’t the daughter of Spain’s Interior Minister. Supt. Brendan Healy attaches Inspector Mike Mulcahy, just back from a posting with Europol’s Narcotics Intelligence Unit in Madrid, to Inspector Claire Brogan’s Sex Crimes squad as an interpreter who can take the girl’s statement. When First Secretary Ibañez sees that Mulcahy is the only officer who treats either Jesica or himself humanely, he insists that Mulcahy be assigned to the case, then spirits the victim out of the country, forcing the Garda Siochana to hide their investigation. Marooned in a posting he hates, surrounded by colleagues who look down their noses at him, Mulcahy finds comfort only in devising theories of the case that Brogan and Sgt. Andy Cassidy, her sneering sidekick, ignore, and chatting with his old friend Siobhan Fallon, a Sunday Herald reporter who soon sets her sights on a story she’s convinced involves a high-level cover-up. A second attack on a dental secretary, and the news that the first assault wasn’t the first after all, raise the stakes for all concerned.
The killer’s religio-pathic background is never quite convincing, but O’Donovan juggles his suspects deftly, and frustrated Mulcahy promises to be excellent company for the long term.