Moore’s (The Poison Artist, 2016, etc.) complex and often deeply disturbing crime noir set in the City by the Bay delves into dark subjects and the insidious nature of true evil.
Two things happen almost simultaneously to San Francisco Police Inspector Gavin Cain: as he and his newly minted partner, Grassley, stand at the grave of Christopher Hanley, a young boy who died years ago, and watch as the casket is exhumed, following up on a tip, he's summoned to tackle a new challenge. His lieutenant has him flown by helicopter to City Hall to consult with the mayor, Harry Castelli, concerning a series of photographs and a note he received. The photos show a beautiful blonde woman who is clearly terrified, but even more disturbing is the note, which indicates that more photos will come unless Castelli kills himself. Castelli says he doesn't know the woman in the photographs and has no idea why anyone would urge him to commit suicide. Cain and FBI agent Karen Fischer struggle to identify the mysterious and apparently doomed blonde in the black-and-white photos, which they believe were taken 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, Cain, whose personal life is already complicated enough—his girlfriend, Lucy, hasn’t left her home in four years—is stunned to discover that Christopher Hanley's casket contained not only the corpse of the dead teen, but also the desiccated body of a woman who, judging by the evidence, was buried alive. Moore sketches Cain with a spare pen, leaving the reader to fill in most of the blanks, but his knowledge of police procedure and the nature of the job is immaculate. Moody and macabre with an Edgar Allan Poe feel to it, this book leaves an uncomfortable, indelible impression that can’t be shaken by simply putting it down. The featureless Cain and his search for the woman in the casket are irresistible.
San Francisco has never been so menacing.