A childhood kidnap victim–turned-cop looks to the FBI agent who rescued her for help in tracking a serial sex criminal in a case that may change their relationship forever.
Not only is Ellery Hathaway temporarily sidelined from her job as a suburban Boston police officer just because she killed some guy, but she’s stuck in court-appointed counseling with Dr. Sunny, who wants Ellery to attend a support group for other victims of crimes. It’s not like Ellery is denying that her shooting of William Willett was influenced by her early-life experience of being kidnapped and tortured by serial killer Francis Coben, but how does someone even deal with that? A name change hasn’t kept the press or fascinated gawkers from judging Ellery’s every move even though all she wants is to be left alone, especially now that she’s no longer in a position to serve up justice. Or is she? Dr. Sunny insists that Ellery meet one of the survivors-group participants, and Ellery is convinced it’s Wendy Mendoza, a woman the police have let down in their search for her sexual assailant. After talking briefly with Wendy, Ellery agrees to go to bat for her with the guy assigned to the case, though her talk with Detective Joseph Manganelli is a dead end. The woman Dr. Sunny really wanted Ellery to meet is Myra, an older burn victim who lost her toddler, Bobby, in a fire some decades before. Not that Ellery wants to appear unfriendly—well, not too unfriendly—but what does she have to say to a woman whose experience is so unlike her own? So Ellery focuses instead on reviewing Wendy’s case with a little help from her FBI connection, Reed Markham. Though Reed is up for a big promotion that could release him from his constant fieldwork to spend more time with his family, he flies to Boston to see how he can help. Maybe he’s felt responsible for Ellery ever since he rescued her from Coben’s lair; maybe his relationship with her is turning into something more.
Ultimately, this remains more superficially focused on sparking potential romance than creating the same creepy thrills that made Schaffhausen’s debut (The Vanishing Season, 2017) so memorable.