Lucas Davenport’s latest case involves at least 15 women who were raped and strangled. Maybe more.
Years after Heather Jorgenson, the fifth intended victim of a murderous rapist, escaped thanks to her Leatherman knife, a pair of high school kids searching for a remote location for a tryst makes a horrifying discovery which indicates that an awful lot of women were less lucky. A cistern near Sally James’ farm is filled with 15 items immediately identifiable as skulls and so much undifferentiated organic matter that it’s anybody’s guess how many victims were dumped there—let alone who they were. Methodical, unspectacular Bob Shaffer, of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is put in charge of the case, and his patient collection and sifting of facts indicates that Mary Lynn Carpenter, a candy-store owner who vanished two weeks ago, was the latest in a string of murders that may stretch back 20 years. When an uncharacteristic episode of solo snooping abruptly ends Shaffer’s involvement with the case, Lucas (Silken Prey, 2013, etc.) is on hand to take over. Working with Goodhue County deputy Catrin Mattsson, he reaches the pivotal conclusion that the rapist is actually two men working together, even though one of them, ex-dogcatcher Jack Horn, seems to have died years ago. Unfortunately, this intelligence comes too late to prevent the abduction of Catrin herself, who’s put through the same nightmare as all those other women while Lucas is off in Texas seeing what he can do for his close BCA friend Del Capslock, who was shot in a drug bust gone wrong.
Like so many of Lucas’ cases, his 26th is routine but proficient and intense. If it doesn’t add anything new to the genre, it provides all the thrills fans will expect.