Veste’s moody procedural tells the story of a pair of Liverpool detectives tracking a killer influenced by local mythology.
Louise Henderson, the investigator at the heart of this novel, is a detective with secrets. She keeps some from her partner, DS Shipley; when the book opens, she’s also grappling with moments of sudden and inexplicable terror that leave her unsure of their origin and unsettled by their impact on her. Soon, the detectives take up the case of a woman who escaped a deadly attack—and who believes it was the work of the title character, a local legend who may be a murderer, a supernatural creature, or something else entirely. Not long after that, a dead body shows up, which suggests a connection to an earlier death, but a host of loose ends hang for the detectives to piece together—and there’s also the matter of a series of flashbacks set years earlier, when a teenager vanished. How these seemingly disparate elements connect—sometimes linearly, sometimes via well-made twists—leads the novel to its conclusion. Veste’s slow-burning approach works well, sustaining the sense of general wrongness that gives the narrative so much atmosphere. There are a few heavy-handed moments here and there. “They thought they knew evil. They had no idea” is perhaps the most flagrant example; as this book is either about a serial killer or an urban legend come to life, that sense of menace is already built in to the narrative well enough. But the conclusion is largely satisfying, playing well off the dynamics Veste established over the course of the story.
A solid sense of place, a looming sense of menace: a frequently gripping read.