Not even the death of an infamous serial killer brings closure to the detective who brought him to justice.
A fellow prisoner has murdered the Edinburgh Christmas Killer. But for DI Tony McLean, this news only brings back memories of the horrendous death of his fiancee, who was the killer’s last victim. Then the body of a young woman is found in a stream, naked, tortured, raped, her throat cut and her body washed clean—all hallmarks of the Christmas Killer’s work. McLean is given the case over the protestations of DCI Duguid, who wants every man working on a big drug operation. He’s also working on a series of arson fires that are destroying big, old buildings that are unused or being rehabbed for other uses. McLean is embarrassed when his own apartment building goes up in flames and he learns that one of the flats was occupied by drug dealers. Meanwhile, another copycat death doubles the pressure on him. Afraid he’ll crack, his boss orders him to attend counseling sessions that he considers a waste. When the original murderer, a bookseller, confessed to the crime, he blamed his actions on an ancient book with mystical powers that he claimed turned him into a serial killer. McLean can only hope that the disappearance of that book will provide the clue that cracks the case.
The violence and supernatural touches may put some readers off this sequel (Natural Causes, 2012, not reviewed), but Oswald’s detective gives John Rebus a run for his money in this noirish page-turner.