Mosby’s latest nightmare poses a perfectly serious question most readers have probably never thought about: which is more harrowing, death or resurrection?
Two years after she was killed in a car crash, Charlie Matheson is found wandering the streets of her nameless English town, weak, disoriented, her face horribly mutilated, but incontestably alive. Her husband, Paul Carlisle, has moved on with his life, getting his new partner pregnant, and he refuses to believe that the woman is Charlie. For her part, Charlie doesn’t dispute the report of her death but tells Detective Mark Nelson that she’s spent the past two years in hell. Detective David Groves would certainly agree that you don’t have to die to experience hell. In the three years since Jamie, his 3-year-old son, disappeared and was found dead, he and his wife have split up, reuniting only for their annual private memorials, and he’s repeatedly been taunted by anonymous phone calls and birthday cards. But the latest card, which includes the message, “I know who did it,” crosses the line from sadistic to fiendish. Mark, who long ago lost a loved one whose death was never confirmed, succeeds in linking Charlie’s disappearance to the work of the 50/50 Killer, whose specialty of kidnapping couples and demanding that one of them decide which of them would be killed and which turned free was so harrowing that pursuing him got Detective John Mercer kicked off the force. But Mark is up against both an exceptionally evil cadre of villains and a resourceful author (The Nightmare Place, 2015, etc.) whose unannounced and often duplicitous shifts in time are in their own way just as nasty.
It doesn’t matter that Mosby has no interest in tying up all the dozens of loose ends left dangling. This is a powerfully haunting tale you don’t so much pursue to its resolution as mercifully awaken from.