A good cop turns expert hit-man.
Once upon a time, Detective Chief Inspector Dennis Milne had principles; now he has rationalizations. Maybe it all started going south the day bad guys tricked him into a triple homicide. Or maybe even earlier—maybe the time he decided the glacial justice system needed goosing from someone who understood that the playing field was severely slanted by all those bleeding-heart rules and regs determining what was and wasn’t evidence. A wanted man, Milne flees, landing softly in the Philippines, where he’s half-owner of a small but comfortable hotel—a hotelier with an interesting sideline: His gun’s for hire. Not for just any purpose, of course. But off a pedophile? Why not? Take $30,000 to take out a career criminal? Sure. Who’d miss him? “I’m no cold-blooded murderer,” says Milne, claiming to have ended only “the lives of people who deserved it.” It’s just such a vigilante mission that brings him sneaking back to London. He’s decided to kill the snake who’s killed a pretty good friend of his. And if it turns out there are intermediate snakes who deserve killing, well, so be it.
It’s an appealing conceit, but after three solid efforts (The Crime Trade, 2005, etc.), some serious over-plotting and a Grand Guignol finale make Kernick’s fourth a bit of a mess.