A cleaning lady’s murder reopens a four-year-old British case few can bear to look at again.
Schizophrenic mortuary technician Melkior Pendred allegedly killed and expertly dissected five victims before he was captured and convicted. Now that he’s died in prison, the case couldn’t be more completely closed. So it’s terrible news indeed for Chief Inspector William Homer when the murder of Jenny Muir shows every sign of being the work of the Eviscerator. Homer’s one hope is Melkior’s autistic twin Martin, who has a weak alibi for the latest outrage and lacks the wit and inclination to defend himself against legal charges. The situation could be saved, he’s convinced, if Martin could be fitted up for the earlier crimes as well. But Dr. John Eisenmenger, called in to consult on the case when a second victim is discovered, thinks the latest horrors are the work of a copycat who isn’t Melkior or Martin. More likely it’s one of the histopathologists at the Western Royal Infirmary, where Eisenmenger has just begun a stint as a temporary replacement for brilliant, stressed-out Dr. Victoria Bence-Jones, whose husband is Medical Director at WRI. Backed by his cancer-stricken lover, solicitor Helena Flemming, and Inspector Beverley Wharton, both of whom played active roles in the earlier case, Eisenmenger pushes to reopen this one. Gruesome developments follow.
McCarthy’s sardonic wit leavens a tale as grimly intense as Eisenmenger’s first two adventures (The Silent Sleep of the Dying, 2004, etc.).