Recovering from a nasty fall down a flight of stairs, Detective D.D. Warren, of Boston Homicide, tangles with a pair of sisters who put her pain in a whole new perspective.
Forty years ago, Harry Day, about to be arrested for killing eight prostitutes, got his wife to slit his wrists before the police closed in. He left behind two young daughters: Shana, a sociopath who followed so closely in her father’s footsteps that she was jailed for life when she killed a neighborhood boy at age 14, and Adeline, not quite a year old when her father died, who’s grown up cursed by an inability to feel physical pain. Naturally, Adeline went to medical school and became a psychiatrist specializing in pain management, and it’s in that capacity that D.D. consults her after an accident at a blood-soaked crime scene leaves her with an impressive set of injuries. Christine Ryan, the victim who’s been smothered and flayed by someone who left behind a bottle of champagne, a pair of fur-lined handcuffs and a long-stemmed rose, is followed distressingly quickly by a second victim, occupational therapist Regina Barnes. Even worse, the handiwork of the Rose Killer is gruesomely linked to the criminal careers of Harry Day, dead these 40 years, and his daughter Shana, who’s been in the Massachusetts Correctional Institute for over 25 years. Alternating as usual between third-person chapters following D.D.’s investigation and first-person chapters dramatizing Adeline’s point of view, Gardner (Touch & Go, 2013, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of two troubled sisters so closely bound together by blood that they agree: “Blood is love.”
If you think Gardner pulled out all the stops in D.D.’s previous cases (Catch Me, 2012, etc.), you ain’t seen nothing yet. Better fasten your seat belt for this roller-coaster ride through family hell.