A body washed up on a beach plunges the English seaside town of Frantham into the midst of a byzantine kidnap conspiracy in this obscurely plotted follow-up to A Reason to Kill (2008).
DI Sebastian “Mac” McGregor is on the road to recovery from the trauma that sidelined him for months: watching a cornered kidnapper slash to death a little girl before he could save her. Even violent Edward Parker’s fatal fall from a cliff hasn’t dented his newfound optimism. Mac keeps tabs on Parker’s son George, who’s been consigned by social services to the Hill House children’s home; he dines at Peverill Lodge with actress-turned-boarding-house-proprietor Rina Martin and her menagerie of retired showbiz folk; he even summons the gumption to flirt with comely medical examiner Miriam Hastings. But when a body washed up in a cove turns out to be not the expected corpse of Parker, but that of 24-year-old Pat Duggan, the pace of Mac’s life accelerates, and not in a good way. Duggan’s father Jimmy reveals that Pat was kidnapped not once but twice, part of a vast string of abductions staged by Travis Haines. This shadowy mastermind also snatched the Goldman twins and the Randall boy, who was returned minus a finger. And George Parker recognizes Haines’ goons, Stan and Coran, as the men he’d seen with his dad shortly before the cliffside plunge. Will Mac intervene in time to save other children from peril?
Kidnapping, stakeouts and shootouts disrupt the otherwise cozy tone without solving the puzzle or explaining the criminals’ motives.