In this debut thriller, a slain family is only the beginning for a group of killers that ultimately sets its sights on the investigating detectives.
Retired detective Nicholas Pearce, now working as a police consultant, is well-known for his impeccable hunches. He attributes two murder scenes, both involving families and a surviving member, to the same killer—or is it killers? It seems that someone may be recruiting orphans for fiendish purposes. Apparently, Nick’s hunches are spot-on, as masked men brandishing AK-47s start gunning for the police. Maroney’s novel is two stories in one: a rousing procedural and a solid action story. The former is the better of the two, with an investigation that unfolds at an unrelenting pace, featuring a dumped body that leads police to the murder site, where they find the left-alive daughter, followed by a second family killed and a break in the case. Nick, who has degrees in psychology and criminal justice, meticulously picks apart the crime scenes. He’s a winsome character whose analytical proficiency is constantly on display, though his insistence on playing down his skills—“I’m just lucky sometimes,” he muses—borders on self-depreciation. After an ensnared criminal confirms some of Nick’s theories and answers a few lingering questions, the latter part of the novel centers on the Nick finding the killers while simultaneously dodging apparent hits. Addie, a federal agent and a love interest of Nick’s, is introduced a little late in the novel, but she’s instantly likable with her sturdy demeanor and ability to take Nick’s cynicism in stride: When he suggests that she’s not his type because she’s “too butch,” Addie calmly reminds him that she’s armed. What also sets Maroney’s book apart is Nick’s investigative approach: He tries to understand the killers and their motives without condemning what they’re doing. It’s an uncommon way to scrutinize a crime scene and one that feels unspoiled by cliché.
A potboiler with flawless rhythm and a protagonist who’s practically begging for his own series.