While he counts down the days till he marries pathology technician Cleo Morey, the mother of his baby son, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace tangles with a dangerously unbalanced jack-of-all-trades who just won’t let his ex-lover go.
“If I can’t have you, no one will,” thinks George Clooney look-alike Bryce Laurent about Red Westwood, the flame-haired beauty who dumped him when his over-the-top devotion turned abusive and scary. It’s hardly an original concept, but Bryce brings unusual qualifications to the role of the spurned lover–turned–avenger. Though his stories about being an airplane pilot and air traffic controller were piffle, he has expert knowledge of locks (and how to pick them), fires (how to put them out, how to start them) and explosives (guess). He’s a classic narcissist who’s perfectly prepared to warm up for his planned torture killing of Red by attacking those closest to her, beginning with her current boyfriend, widowed family physician Karl Murphy. As Bryce considers whom to strike next—perhaps Red’s best friend, dentist Raquel Evans, or Camilla Westwood, the mother who hired a detective to dig up dirt on Bruce—Grace (Dead Man’s Time, 2013, etc.) faces an adversary closer to home: Sandy Lohmann, his wife, who plans to end her secret life in Munich with their son Bruno by interrupting Grace and Cleo’s wedding with the news that even though she’s been declared legally dead, there’s enough life in her yet to ruin their big day.
Bryce’s ruthless proficiency as an arsonist guarantees the requisite number of pulse-pounding set pieces, but the whole affair feels a bit mechanical, right down to the climactic sequence in which he and Red are locked together inside the panic room she’s installed to keep him at bay.