A debut novel focuses on a complex murder investigation in Canada.
Pachan’s story starts with a bit of a cliché—Cam Clay, a seasoned police officer in Calgary with some trouble in his recent past, is breaking in a new partner, Mitch Raines. Unfortunately for both of them, their first case together is a brutal double murder. A mother, Susan Sinclair, has had her head bashed in and been stabbed multiple times while her 3-year-old son, Joey, has had his throat cut. The immediate suspect is Danny McKenzie, Sinclair’s brother, who was on the scene when the homicides happened. But then evidence starts to point to Sam Jensen, a convicted child molester who lives two doors down from the victims. Even with two obvious suspects, the case keeps getting harder. Sinclair’s husband, Bruno, in jail for abusing her, is about to get released. And the vicious murders keep coming—each of them following a pattern. Meanwhile, Clay is dealing with having killed a suspect for the first time in his career during a crack-den raid. And then there’s his rocky relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Maddie Watson, a reporter who betrayed his confidence to break a story about a high-profile case. Pachan has populated his gory tale with believable characters: old hand and family friend Jack Sanderson; Inspector Zac Warren, who handles the media; Inspector Hiroki Sanchez, who conducts forensics work; and more. Credit the author’s 30-plus years of experience in Canadian law enforcement with the realism he brings to his novel. Still, there are a lot of cop-story clichés sprinkled into the narrative. Clay is mandated to see a psychologist after the shooting, and often feels his age as the case presses on, especially when he looks at his new, somewhat green partner. But the main tale is compelling and complicated, and the resolution will be tough for mystery lovers to guess. In addition, setting the book in Calgary gives it a unique feel.
Fans of gritty crime fiction should find a few new twists here to enjoy.