A troubled cop, an even more troubled novelist, and a serial killer go 15 feverish rounds.
It all begins, or begins to end, when a stolen car chased by the police crashes into mechanic John Blythe’s garage, revealing inside the figure of half-dead Amanda Cassidy, stripped, starved, and locked into a homemade pillory. Venturing into Blythe’s basement, detectives Will Turner and Emma Beck make an even more horrifying discovery: three sealed barrels containing the remains of no less than 12 victims of the Red River Killer, who’s kidnapped, assaulted, and killed 14 women. Assigned to hunt down and capture the fugitive Blythe, Will remains disturbingly fixated instead on reconstructing the Red River Killer’s long career, focusing especially on the vexing question of which of his victims’ mortal parts isn’t contained in those barrels. When his path crosses that of Jeremy Townsend, a former novelist driven to equally self-tormenting behavior by the memory of his wife, Melanie West, the Killer’s sixth victim, the two men explosively fail to bond. But their relationship looks positively healthy compared to that of Blythe, a resourceful quarry who’s used to living off the land, and the sometime accomplice he’s dubbed the WORM, whose agenda turns out to be quite different from his. With so many free agents prowling the English countryside, complications are bound to crop up, and brother, do they ever, creating both prospective action sequences and retrospective puzzles in the wheels-within-wheels manner of Jeffery Deaver. Although exasperated readers may often share Will’s sense that his detective work is “all just feelings, hunches,” Mosby (The Reckoning on Cane Hill, 2016, etc.) maintains a command of his convoluted plot that’s truly dazzling.
A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma guaranteed to play havoc with both your brain cells and your heartbeat.