A dodgy batch of heroin leads to many murders.
That longtime drug users will die relatively young is to be expected. That their last hit will be laced with anthrax is not. And it gets worse. A sadist is littering Leigh Woods and bicycle paths with severed body parts and thoroughly mashed faces. Bristol CID is overwhelmed not only by the escalating body count but by arctic weather and a cantankerous heating system that leaves the precinct frigid. Assisted by DS Austin, DI Liam McLusky, still fairly new to the area (Falling More Slowly, 2011, etc.), is saddled with sorting through matters, which become yet more complicated when DI Kat Fairfield beds a woman he’s seeing and Denkhaus, his superior, reams him out for irritating a local nabob. Meanwhile, someone is sending the newspaper snippets of pictures that may well reveal what started the murder spree. Unbeknownst to McLusky, similar snippets are being used to blackmail the brains behind the killings. Adding to the treachery, of course, is all that snow and ice and an interrupted burglary that lands McLusky on crutches.
Helton, who seems to have learned how to hatch plots and evoke threats from studying the adroit Bill James, delivers a gritty procedural with an idiosyncratic hero well worth rooting for.