The abduction of a young girl from a local park brings DCI Charlie Woodend personal anguish and professional peril.
Angela Jackson’s disappearance puts urgent pressure on the Central Lancashire police force, and they respond with their first team: irascible, efficient DCI Charlie Woodend, DS Monika Paniatowski and young PC Colin Beresford. They even re-attach Woodend’s old sergeant, Bob Rutter, to the group, hoping they’ll find the missing girl before the worst happens. The team works well. Rutter and Paniatowski have eased the tension from their disastrous affair. Monika even helps care for widowed Bob’s daughter Louisa. But their key suspects—pedophile Peter Mainwaring and Edgar Brunton, whose wallet is found near the scene—both have alibis. And Martin Stevenson, the psychiatrist assigned to help profile the abductor, is fresh out of ideas. So the worst does happen: Angela’s abused body turns up, Woodend’s team is kicked to the curb and Charlie has a second corpse on his conscience. It’s a virtual replay of the Taylor case, when his promises to the kidnap victim’s family were mocked by the discovery of her body in the Thames. But as Stevenson predicts, Angela’s abductor won’t stop, and another child disappears. Finding her might offer redemption, but Charlie’s boss, Henry Marlowe, makes it clear: Off the case means off the case.
A routine procedural from Spencer (Dangerous Games, 2007, etc.) made disturbing by dark glimpses into the mind of a child molester.