In his third novel featuring the inimitable Scottish-born Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of the Serious and Organized Crime Unit in Hull, Yorkshire, Mark pushes his gentle giant of a detective to the limits of his endurance with a series of excessively brutal murders, each very specific in its manner of death. McAvoy’s challenge is to link one to another and prevent further bloodshed. It is a dark tale, McAvoy delving into the truly unsavory behavior of a sadistic criminal whose actions have spawned a broken mind bent on revenge, a killer born of violence and terror.
Working closely with his boss, Detective Inspector Trish Pharaoh, who both trusts and depends on McAvoy’s instincts, McAvoy and the department have been charged with dismantling an entrenched drug cartel in Hull, the effort most recently helmed by Detective Chief Investigator Colin Ray; his assistant, Detective Inspector Shaz Archer; and a reluctant Detective Constable Helen Tremberg. Disappointed that she was not allowed to join Pharaoh’s team on the murder investigation that has suddenly become a priority and the brunt of both Ray and Archer’s dislike, Helen comforts herself by musing over a new romance, her only distraction in an unsavory assignment. Little does Helen realize the extent of her folly or the anguish that will flow from her indiscretion.
Besides his uncanny skills as a detective and his great size, whatever is wrong in Aector’s world is made right by his marriage to Roison, child of a Traveler family, and their two young children. No matter how demanding a case, McAvoy finds peace and comfort in the arms of his wife. A bright, gregarious young woman, Roison equally adores her husband, and the pair currently anticipate a move to their new home. Coming to the assistance of her good friend, Mel, who is establishing a new business in a sketchy Hull neighborhood, Roison has no idea that her impulsive defense will breed a vendetta by an enraged psychopath and reign chaos down on her happy world.
Mark balances his two-pronged plot with deadly precision. Trish and Aector move closer to uncovering the motive for the murders of three innocent people and the abduction of another. The vile behavior of this monster has gone unpunished, his body failing but his mind still percolating with memories of the devastation he has wrought, the pain he has caused. Each primary character plays a critical in this dramatic novel, from the source of a murderer’s rage to the hubris of a drug lord faced with scorn and disrespect, from families unable to make peace with the deaths of their loved ones to a detective’s terrible realization that she has fallen into a trap from which there is no escape save dishonor.
The city is caught in a merciless heat wave, weary bodies steaming as the pursue their duties, the scent of murder and fear strong in the air, a high level of corruption destabilizing the drug investigation, McAvoy grappling with the imminent risk of another death in an unfolding spiral of murders that has escalated, a thunderous sky finally lashing Hull with torrents of rain. In his most harrowing and disturbing tale yet, Mark pushes his Scots detective to the edge of a cliff this time—then he pushes him off.