A South London serial killer gets too much credit.
Between September and December of 2009, four vulnerable young women walking home alone at night are brutally savaged, then set alight. DC Maeve Kerrigan, the only lass assigned to Operation Mandrake to bring “the Burning Man” to justice, is tasked with following up on the murder of a fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth. Unfortunately, when Maeve arrives at Rebecca’s digs, Louise North is already there scrubbing the rooms clean. Her oldest friend, she says, was a tad messy, and she’s been picking up after her since their years at Oxford. She points Maeve toward Rebecca’s former boyfriend, the abusive Gil Maddick, as a possible suspect. Her apparently surprising idea makes sense because not everything about Rebecca’s murder jibes with the burning man’s M.O. Chief Superintendent Godley encourages Maeve to delve into Rebecca’s past, which includes a cocaine addiction, a touch of blackmail and an obsession with a young man who drowned at Oxford. But matters come to an abrupt halt when a stakeout lands Maeve in the hospital with a fractured skull, her death averted only by the quick action of DC Rob Langton. As she heals, her feelings for Rob deepen. So does her belief in what and who really caused Rebecca’s demise.
Casey (The Missing, 2010) excels at precinct backbiting, sexism and romance. She’s less surefooted at winding up her plot, resorting to a major and unlikely confession.