Five years after he spread terror among Buffalo’s teenage girls and their parents, a notorious killer is back in the saddle.
Corrections Officer Joe Carlson may be the premier transporter of dangerous criminals, but he botches Marcus Flynn’s prison transfer so badly that Flynn escapes, and Carlson pays with his life. Every cop in Erie County, it seems, is deployed to search for Flynn, dubbed Hangman when he was convicted of strangling four high school students. The officer in charge is Detective Absalom Kearney, who’s already earned quite a reputation for resourcefulness and insubordination (Black Irish, 2013). It’s Abbie who figures out where Flynn is headed; Abbie who decides against all advice to take a closer look at Walter Myeong, whose daughter Maggie was among the victims, and Frank Riesen, whose daughter Sandy’s body was never recovered; and Abbie who in the end makes a deal with the devil when she accepts the help of the Murphia, the area’s sinister network of ex-cops and their collaborators, to pursue the leads Chief Albert Perelli tells her to leave alone. And Hangman, who’s already murdered Martha Stoltz and set his sights on snooty Nardin Academy student Katrina Lamb, is well worth every dark deal Abbie can make. There’s nothing especially original about the clues, the detection or the killer’s avowed intention of “saving the girls. From something worse than death,” but Talty works the familiar ground with enough assurance to keep you burning the midnight oil—or, in this case, coal.
Less gritty and more streamlined than Abbie’s debut: an expertly judged dose of adrenaline whose cast can only hang on for dear life till the final crash of cymbals.