DS Matt Arnold (Blood Is Thicker, 2008) faces the effects of his son’s injury while grappling with a serial killer whose signature defies belief.Home in London is no haven for DS Arnold, whose wife Jo barely speaks to him. His single-minded pursuit of the hit-and-run driver who left their son Ben severely brain-damaged has driven an impenetrable wedge between them. So the detective is all too eager to spend his time probing the murder of Ray Barnes, whose sliced-up genitals have been neatly plated in front of his corpse next to a biblical verse and an injunction against sin. Other alleged sinners quickly turn up similarly dispatched. Afro-Caribbean defense lawyer Jeffrey Bamfo is found on a golf course in Tewkesbury, African immigrant Tunde Oshodi in a park, pornography connoisseur Edward Piper off a secluded country lane. Barnes’ unstable wife Vanessa is a suspect, although her motive for multiple slayings remains unclear. Matt’s boss, DI Blandford, details DS Mark Lewis, DS Colin Edridge and DS Ernie Watling to check backgrounds, interview witnesses and comb through the physical evidence. But as Ben’s condition deteriorates, Matt becomes increasingly focused on the grisly killings, and his absorption in the case convinces Jo more than ever that his interest in their domestic life has dwindled to the point of no return.
Cox lavishes attention on the murders’ visceral details at the expense of the investigation’s deductive details.