Under pressure from every side, DCI Carol Jordan, who heads Bradfield CID’s major incident team, and profiler Dr. Tony Hill are forced to work out a new series of relationships with each other.
James Blake, Bradfield’s new Chief Constable, seems so impressed by the successes of the major-incident team that he’s determined to disperse it among his whole force to make its members’ expertise more cost-effective. His No. 1 imperative to Carol: replace high-priced consultant Tony Hill with some bright boy from the police academy. It’s a bad decision, of course, not only because Bradfield is a breeding ground for serial killers (Beneath the Bleeding, 2009, etc.) but because dim, overconfident rookie DS Tim Parker can’t offer any more than the vaguest generalities about who chatted with 14-year-olds Daniel Morrison and Seth Viner online and lured them out of their homes, or why he killed and castrated them in record time, without lingering over his crimes long enough to provide the obligatory sexual thrills. Ironically, it’s Tony who provides the crucial intelligence needed to solve the case. Hired as a consultant by the West Mercia CID, he’s been investigating the murder of 14-year-old Jennifer Maidment—a murder, he gradually realizes, that’s the work of the same person Carol and her crew are seeking.
As usual in McDermid, there’s so much going on—including an ancient, unsolved triple homicide and Tony’s stumbling attempts to come to terms with the late father who never acknowledged him—that fans of the British procedural will find their cup running over.