A wounded veteran of the Iraq war returns to a London landscape just as threatening.
Since his Scimitar tank was bombed, Lt. Charles Acland, the sole survivor, has been in no mood to brag about his alleged good fortune. He’s sustained serious head injuries, lost an eye and become even more skittish about being touched than he was before. Even so, hospital psychiatrist Dr. Robert Willis notes that he’s resolute in expressing his wishes about practically everything. On one point he’s especially adamant: He wants no further contact with Jennifer Morley, the stage actress with whom he broke off his engagement just before he left for the front. In the fullness of time she turns up at his bedside, and sparks fly over the sharply differing accounts the two lovebirds offer of their relationship and its abrupt ending. What does their abortive romance have to do with the murderous attacks on a series of inoffensive men, most of them gay or bisexual? For a long time it seems that the only connection is that they’re all in the same book. But Det. Supt. Brian Jones, who heads the inquiry into the beatings, finds more and more links that can’t be coincidental, especially after Acland, who’s checked himself out of the hospital and fallen in with a no-nonsense lesbian physician and her pub-owning partner, turns out to be connected to three different victims: one who drank at his pub, one he quarreled with shortly before the victim was attacked and one whose cell phone he gives the police. Despite the red herrings provided by a diabetic young runaway and the homeless man who befriends him, the net tightens around Acland, whose torment is so piercing he might be a holdover from Walters’s last outing in Iraq (The Devil’s Feather, 2006).
Forget the tangled mystery. The dance of death between Acland and his ex-lover is harrowing.