Veteran novelist Parsons’ first police thriller introduces Max Wolfe, a detective raising a young child alone, who's on a quest to find a vicious serial killer.
In 1988, a gang rape and murder committed by a group of public school students—public school is the term for an expensive private school in the U.K.—has repercussions years later when a serial killer starts knocking off the now-grown men who committed the crime. First up is Hugo Buck, a rich banker who likes to beat his wife. Found with a gaping hole from a knife slash across his throat, Buck is only the first of a group of men involved in the crime to be brutally murdered. Wolfe, a detective constable transferred to the homicide squad following his unorthodox defusing of a bomb threat, finds himself trying to balance life with his 5-year-old daughter, Scout, and their puppy, Stan. With his thoughtful new boss, Victor Mallory, Max investigates Buck and the second victim, a homeless former drug addict named Adam. Both the killing wound and the word “PIG” found at the scenes link the crimes, and the information that both men were old friends and part of the same group of student military officers leads Max to become curious about the other students. Max, a pleasant, sympathetic character who takes his job seriously and is tentative about single fatherhood, finds the going slow and real life puzzling. The narrative works best during the first two-thirds of the book, becoming less believable as the novel progresses and Max is hot on the killer’s trail.
The resolution feels both hurried and tacked on to what is otherwise a very readable novel.