Still recuperating from the physical and psychic wounds he suffered in closing his last case (Shut Your Eyes Tight, 2011, etc.), retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney is drawn into yet another one, a 10-year-old serial killing that’s never been closed.
As a favor to Connie Clarke, the freelance reporter who made him famous as the Supercop, Gurney agrees to give her daughter, journalism student Kim Corazon, a little help on a project that’s suddenly mushroomed from an academic thesis to a series on RAM TV. To flesh out her sense of how murder devastates a lot more people than the murder victims, Kim has interviewed the widows and children of victims of the Good Shepherd, who fired on half a dozen drivers in black Mercedes sedans in upstate New York and Massachusetts, left little toy animals at each crime scene, and sent the cops a diatribe against the greedy rich that yielded a very clear psychological profile but proved no help in closing the case a decade ago. Initially agreeing to accompany Kim on her rounds for a single day, Dave predictably gets sucked into deeper involvement with the grieving relatives, some of them happier than others to air their grief; the scalawag front-office types at RAM TV; Kim’s accusatory ex-boyfriend Robert Montague, né Meese; and the law officials who neither solved the case nor want to talk about it now. Of the latter, New York State Police Senior Investigator Jack Hardwick is the most rational and helpful; his colleague Max Clinter, maddened by PTSD after he let the Shepherd escape his last crime scene, the craziest; and FBI agent Matthew Trout the most closemouthed and menacing.
Endless allusions to Dave’s brilliance can’t obscure the fact that the colorless killer’s plot is based on a cliché so well-established in the genre that experienced readers, spotting it long before the tortured genius, will feel pretty doggoned clever themselves.