No 10-year-old boy is safe in south London.
At first, the kids are just missing. Then their bodies turn up on Tuesdays or Thursdays with slashed throats. Websites about the blood-drained boys appear. Someone calling himself Peter Sweep posts Dracula quotations and chides DI Dana Tulloch’s police investigation as incompetent. Young Barney Roberts, who suffers from blackouts and spends the majority of his time pining for the mother he last saw when he was 4 years old and the rest tracking the crime scenes with his preteen mates, thinks his father might be responsible for the murders. His dad is never at home on the nights in question. He’s obsessed with Dracula. He keeps a boat where two of the bodies were found. Barney toys with confiding in his neighbor, DC Lacey Flint, but asks her only to help find his mom. Lacey, on leave from the Southwark police (Dead Scared, 2012, etc.), is barely keeping herself together. She refuses to talk to DI Mark Joesbury, who loves her, or meet his son Huck. She’s evasive with her therapist. And she’s begun cutting her forearm to relieve her stress. Moreover, her behavior has encouraged Dana Tulloch to suggest her as the serial killer of the lost boys. When both Huck and Barney go missing, the emotionally overwrought Lacey is forced into action.
Bolton, who specializes in over-the-top psychological mayhem, ratchets up the tension with OCD diagnoses, past furies unresolved and a reworking of the Peter Pan story.