Review by Ann McDonald
A man’s body is found in an empty house. A gruesome memento of his murder is sent to his wife and children. He is the first victim, and Detective Helen Grace knows he will not be the last but what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is—or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase…..
What we have is a serial killer who takes great pleasure in their work, they enjoy sending mementos to the families of the butchered: men, family men who use and abuse prostitutes, so we have Jack the Ripper in reverse.
Helen Grace returns to work after a leave of absence that was the result of a particularly brutal case that involved the shooting dead of her sister Marianne. I found oblique references to the prior case annoying and while I understand that this is part of a series, I like my stories to be able to stand alone. In all fairness, the book does accomplish that but I couldn’t help but think I was missing something.
Back to the novel at hand, this story is told from an English perspective and it is set in Southampton in England and it is an area where a lot of cargo ships load and unload. The setting on the docks and the surrounding locale is very well done.
Helen has a good team, an ambitious female boss who will ride Helen’s coattails to achieve her own goals, they do not like each other and we have a nasty reporter, of course. You don’t really get to know the characters all that well, that’s because the background for many of them resides in book one.
On the whole, I enjoyed this read. It’s fast-paced and the atmosphere of the vice dens and derelict houses used by the local prostitutes, is well drawn. You become involved in the solving of this case and it is particularly gruesome in parts. Some of the reveals about Grace’s personal choices will raise and odd eyebrow and it is brought to a satisfying conclusion, with plenty of “see you in the next book” teases.
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