In A Hard Death, the follow-up to
the author's debut, main character Edward Jenner is still alive after narrowly surviving the mind-bending cruelty of the Inquisitor killings in
Precious Blood). More murders start happening, and Jenner is once again thrust into the middle of the mayhem and mystery.
Hayes is a forensic pathologist turned author, and he knows his way around a dead body. When people show up dead, the author knows of what he writes, and the scenes are almost surreal in their authenticity. Here he describes one victim:
"He placed a sternal retractor into the chest incision, and cranked it wide-open, then quickly and methodically removed the lungs, the heart, and opened the flat sheet of muscle that separated chest cavity from abdomen. Then Smith held the abdominal retractor while Reggie cleared out the liver, intestines, and other abdominal organs, tossing them into a heavy-duty leaf bag; they'd end up in the crematorium over."
You can smell the formaldehyde and see the organs splayed out on display.
He handles every other aspect of the mystery novel with equal ease. Things move quickly, and menace and danger
lurk at every turn. A maniacal killer set against the swampy backdrop of the Florida Everglades makes for one creepy thriller. If you can handle a tense and taut mystery that will pluck you like a violin string, this will satisfy in a big way.