In a taut and brooding thriller, Edric (Peacetime, 2004, etc.) follows a p.i. deep into the pit of depravity while investigating the case of a pedophilic serial killer.
The northern English town of Hull is a charmless gray place that manages to find room for all that’s bad about Britain (food and weather, for example) without admitting many of its virtues—and, lately, perversion and brutality have been stirred into the stew. Hull became infamous ten years before, when two children there killed a boy for no discernible reason. This atmosphere of nihilism and despair informs the narrative of Leo Rivers, a private investigator who is approached by James Bishop, the father of a teenaged girl who went missing some years back. Bishop’s daughter Nicola has never been found, but when the notorious murderer and pornographer Martin Roper was convicted of a separate killing some years earlier, he claimed (with some pride but no proof) to have killed Nicola as well. Rumors are circulating that Roper is appealing his conviction, offering information on the whereabouts of Nicola and several other missing girls in exchange for his appeal, and Bishop wants Leo to find out what’s going on. That turns out to be harder than you might think: Roper’s trial was so lurid that most of it was conducted in a cleared courtroom, and much of the testimony is permanently sealed. It soon becomes apparent that there are more than a few people with an interest in keeping the case closed and forgotten. Leo tracks down the odd insider (press agents, prison guards, and others) willing to talk, but most of his usual sources seem to be stonewalling. When an old classmate of Nicola’s is murdered not long after Leo interviews her, the case is suddenly hot again. But who is behind it?
Marvelously paced and plotted: Edric’s story builds momentum steadily from first page to final climax.