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by Thomas O’Callaghan

Pub Date: May 9th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-952225-14-7
Publisher: WildBlue Press

A vicious serial killer terrorizes Manhattan, bent on avenging an abusive past.

In this third entry of a thriller series, after Bone Thief (2006) and The Screaming Room (2007), New York author O’Callaghan introduces his most heinous killer yet: a psychotic mortician with a vendetta against Manhattan sex workers. Right from the opening pages, Tilden Quinn is already at work embalming his latest victim inside a mortuary. After the bloodless corpse is discovered floating in the East River, other bodies begin popping up all across New York City. Homicide Lt. John Driscoll dutifully snaps into action to lead an investigation that swiftly blooms with each horrific victim Tilden mutilates. As both a childhood and adult victim of abuse, Tilden is on the loose exacting his hate-filled rage against sex workers, particularly after an encounter that left him sodomized so severely he was hospitalized. To the killer, these women wrongfully “chose a life of immorality” and must be thoroughly cleansed by way of exsanguination. As Driscoll delves deeper into the case, the tall, intimidating detective continues to wrestle with a sorrowful past that includes the death of his mother when he was a boy and the loss of his teenage daughter to a drunk driver. The accident sent his wife into a coma. Just as torturous is Tilden’s own history, which the author teases out over the course of the novel. That backstory describes him as a boy being physically abused by his sex-worker mother’s live-in john. Driscoll, ably assisted by tough Sgt. Margaret Aligante, a childhood victim of abuse, and Detective Cedric Thomlinson, who is covertly battling a burgeoning alcohol dependency, begins amassing clues. The team investigates suspects in a new string of church-related slaughters and interviews prospective leads, no matter how unsavory they may be, including a porn producer specializing in simulated snuff films. Themes of matricide, religious atonement, arson, and even cannibalism all conspire to create a heady stew of intrigue, crime drama, and thrilling police procedural. In Tilden, O’Callaghan has impressively molded a nefarious sociopathic maniac whose barbaric childhood roots hold the key to his murderous motivation. Not for the faint of heart, this novel is perhaps the most accomplished of the series with its chilling forensics, riveting suspense sequences, grisly details, and a diabolical villain who’s wholly consumed by merciless revenge.

Ultragruesome murders are no match for a trio of detectives in this standout thriller.