In this fourth volume of a series, two private investigators tangle with their own tortured pasts while hunting a serial killer.
Toronto gumshoes Samantha McNamara and Reece Hash are engaged. Reece has decided to finish law school, which has left him feeling overextended and short-tempered. When they decide to hire help for their firm, only one candidate shows up, a young man named Elijah Watson. Sam immediately distrusts his stiff movements, stilted speech, and the odd cigarette burns on his wrist. Nevertheless, Eli fixes Reece’s malfunctioning computer on the spot, so they hire him. Though Sam and Reece continue to fall out of sync emotionally, she preoccupies herself with a new case of ritualistic murder in which a University of Toronto freshman’s corpse was posed naked like a statue and his eyes were replaced with black stones. This coincides with the disappearance of college student Bart Walsh, brother of Margaret, the firm’s intern. Margaret says that Bart’s new girlfriend, Angelina “Angel” Stuart, is a rude, manipulative wild child with a questionable past. Making matters worse is the serial killer Incubus, whom Sam helped catch and place in the Millhaven Institute. He’s been writing her flattering letters to get inside her head and bring friction to Sam and Reece’s already strained relationship. In her latest outing with the two private eyes, Fraser (Red Rover, 2016, etc.) pays homage to Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter by making Incubus learned, slimy, and dangerous even behind bars. She fuels the plot with increasingly sadistic secrets, one of which props up the tension between Sam and Reece (“ignoring her was his new modus operandi, along with his grumpy demeanor and argumentative attitude”). Careful details about the murders, like the staging of victims during foul weather to ruin forensic evidence, are impressively geeky. And Fraser doesn’t let fans down during grisly flashbacks, as a warehouse fire leaves Incubus with “strands of charred hair” drooping “across one wide blue eye that stares sightless from bubbling flesh.” Though this story can be enjoyed alone, readers may want to experience the series’ natural progression.
The author tests her sleuths in this grim and engrossing series entry.