Savile (Coldfall Wood, 2018, etc.) launches his new Eurocrimes series with this tale of revenge served curdled.
Just as Vatican envoy Ernesto Donatti is asking Peter Ash, of the British branch of the European Crime Division, for help in tracking down Monsignor Jacques Tournard, a newly appointed Paris bishop, who vanished shortly after a receiving a package containing a human tongue, Swedish minister Henrik Frys asks Francesca Varg, Ash’s local counterpart, for help in tracking down Jonas Anglemark, the gay Swedish cabinet minister who’s also gone missing. The two disappearances—one of them soon revised to a murder—are obviously connected, and knowing genre fans will wait impatiently until Frankie and Ash make the connection: a message both men received, Tournard along with the tongue Anglemark donated, that reads only “Memini Bonn”: Remember Bonn. The hints Savile throws out in his elliptical opening scene are already sufficient to link both men to a long-buried secret, and eventually Frankie and Ash, often working at cross-purposes, trace its genesis to an orphanage run by the EuropaChild Foundation. Meanwhile, their quarry has moved on, marking each of his targets by sending them a body part taken from a previous target before moving in for the kill. Ash stakes out Pietro Danilo, the former manager of a Romanian EuropaChild facility, as bait; Frankie goes through the paperwork on the mounting list of victims looking for more clues; and Laura Byrne, the office administrator who’s been Ash’s only surviving colleague back in London ever since the death of their friend and partner Mitch Greer, seethes when her frantic phone calls to Ash go to voicemail.
Everything—the motive, the modus operandi, the death scenes, the charismatic villain’s ability to inspire deeply misplaced confidence in both his victims and the authorities—is just a little too pat, emphatic, and predictable. The result reads like a bloody synopsis of all the serial-killing revenge fantasies you’ve ever read.