The abduction of a university student sets off a dark chain of events in Veste’s U.S. debut.
Student Jemma Barnes is kidnapped when she takes a taxi home after a night of clubbing. While her estranged boyfriend, Rob (and apparently, nobody else), panics over Jemma’s disappearance, other dead bodies begin showing up around Liverpool—accompanied by long, florid, and rather pretentious letters referring to shady CIA experiments decades earlier. The case improbably goes to Detective David Murphy, who is still damaged from the recent murder of his parents and his own marital problems. (His partner, Laura Rossi, is never fleshed out as a character.) The killer’s identity is revealed early in the book, and Murphy and Rossi manage to overlook the obvious culprit while pegging nearly everybody else as a suspect. That’s not the only logistical howler in the plot: at one point Jemma overpowers her captor and escapes; instead of running straight to the police she turns around to attempt another rescue and gets herself captured again. Rob also makes a fateful misstep that most people with good sense would have avoided. Veste peppers the chapters with some weighty quotes about death and grieving, but it’s hard to take a thriller too seriously when the cops are clueless and the killer is a bit of a bore. The obligatory Silence of the Lambs–style torture scenes don’t help, nor does a crucial plot twist in which a main character gets a highly unlikely lucky break.
A thriller whose ambitions aren’t matched by its dead-silly plot twists.