A pair of Mother’s Day homicides seem equally sinister—until one of them takes DCI Alan Banks and his squad (Piece of My Heart, 2006, etc.) back to an even more horrifying series of past crimes.
The body of Eastvale College student Hayley Daniels, raped and strangled, is found in the Maze, a warren of alleys where the girl went to relieve herself after the loo at her local pub, The Fountain, got trashed. Miles away, a dog-walker comes upon quadriplegic Karen Drew, savagely slashed to death in her wheelchair on a seaside cliff that a simple push would have sent tumbling over. The first investigation falls to Banks’s Western Area Major Crimes Squad, the second to the Eastern Area Squad, where Banks’s ex-lover Annie Cabbot has been seconded. Despite the distracting pugnacity of both squads, Annie soon realizes that “Karen Drew” is actually the wife of Terence Payne, who was killed 20 years ago after butchering five teenaged girls and one of the officers who came after him. Who could have pierced Lucy Payne’s disguise, and why would anyone end such a minimal life after so many years? And who’ll work through the endless list of suspects first, Eastern or Western?
As usual with Robinson, the characters are beautifully drawn, the frequent conflicts sharply etched and the soundtrack of pop tunes ubiquitous. The resolution to both cases seems almost beside the point.