A series of brutal murders intersect with a detective’s troubled past in an unnamed British city.
When Detective Andy Hicks examines the faceless corpse of Vicki Gibson, he clings to his philosophy that every murder has an explanation, even something as senseless as beating a young woman to death with a hammer. The similar murder of a homeless man further tests Hicks’ belief and distances him from his pregnant wife, Rachel. She knows he doesn’t want their baby, but Hicks can’t tell her why. After more bludgeoned bodies appear, a pattern emerges that includes isolated locations, easy prey and a killer dressed in black who sends a letter to Hicks, taunting him that even he won’t be able to crack the code the killer has generated. Worse still is evidence of a murder in progress that Hicks is helpless to prevent. When the killer attacks someone from one of Hicks’ earliest cases, the detective is forced to confront his most painful memories as he frantically studies the murderous pattern for the one element that doesn’t fit. Hicks is right: There is a reason for the murders, even though it’s not altogether persuasive. Still, you root for him and Rachel to reconcile as he struggles to end the killings and his own pain.
Mosby (Black Flowers, 2011, etc.) spares no graphic detail in building tension and terror. His attempts at complexity stretch credulity in an otherwise crackling good tale.