A group of vigilantes goes after bad guys who received little more than a slap on the wrist.
In his latest Max Wolfe outing, Parsons (The Slaughter Man, 2015, etc.) explores whether criminal justice is truly just. This series continues to grow in both its excellent writing and subtly paced character development. When a child groomer—someone who gains a child’s trust in order to set the child up for sexual exploitation—is caught and hung by a mysterious group of masked individuals, London Metro police investigator Wolfe and his squad inherit the case. The victim, Mahmud Irani, was convicted in connection with a child sex ring and received a scant six years in prison. After his release, the vigilantes, wearing masks portraying Britain’s most famous hangman, videotaped his death and released it to the world, dumping the body in Hyde Park. The next body, found near the Marble Arch in Tyburn where thousands of public executions were performed, is broadcast live. Hector Welles, age 35, hit and killed a young boy riding his bicycle. And this wasn’t any young boy—he was the grandson of famous gangster Paul Warboys. Another televised hanging takes place, and, with events in his personal and professional lives tumbling out of control, Wolfe begins to wonder whether the system really does work. Killers go free or receive token sentences, while families grieve and pine for justice. When his best friend, Jackson Rose, walks back into his life, Wolfe faces a dilemma: stay true to his oath as a cop or give in to his instincts to shield the people he cares about. Parsons’ latest takes on the frustration that both cops and society as a whole have with a slow-moving system that often results in punishment that in no way reflects the anguish of those affected by the crime, weighing not only the legally correct responses to those imbalances, but also the morally correct ones.
This case tests Wolfe’s humanity as well as his sense of duty.