Whoever he is, Geronimo—the code name psychological profiler Dr. Tony Hill uses for the latest serial killer in his sights—doesn’t have much use for psychologists. Beginning with Dr. Walter Neumann of the University of Heidelberg, he’s been knocking them out, tying them to their own desks, stripping them, drowning them, and shaving their privates. Geronimo’s macabre ritual is so distinctive, in fact, that it’s not long before cops in two European countries sense that their victims are only part of a larger pattern and start sharing their information through Europol. As luck would have it, their investigation is gathering steam just as Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, long in love with unresponsive Tony, arrives in Germany on her first assignment as Europol Liaison Officer: to capitalize on her uncanny resemblance to Katerina Basler, late mistress of mobster Tadeusz Radecki, to go undercover as a partner in Tadzio’s operation smuggling illegal Chinese in order to make him an offer he’ll be too entranced to refuse—an offer that will smash his whole immigration ring. As Carol worms her way into Tadzio’s confidence, Tony is building up a portrait of Geronimo from the evidence the police have painstakingly amassed. Then suddenly, on page 338, both Carol and Tony begin to act accountably reckless, setting the stage for a melodramatic third act that undercuts the considerable ambitions McDermid (Killing the Shadows, 2001, etc.) has for this dark tale.
A successor to The Mermaids Singing (1996) so densely packed that the poor serial killer almost gets dropped between the cracks.