Past crimes cause new murder in this tense and twisting psychological thriller. A few days before the summer solstice a 92-year-old woman is found burned to death in her home. On the same day, a man’s mutilated corpse is discovered in a field, his arms ripped from their sockets, a Tarot card depicting The Fool inserted in his mouth. When the victim is identified as someone for whom the police have been looking for almost a year, detectives Anderson and Costello find themselves caught up in a case where nothing is as it seems. Was the dead man really responsible for three child murders? And what is the connection with the death of the elderly woman? The investigation leads to the shores of Loch Lomond where Anderson and Costello will finally uncover the shocking truth.
I’ve read and enjoyed the first two books in the series but have somehow got out of sync and now find myself reading number 6. Given the time lapse between reading the previous titles and starting this I’ll admit my memory was pretty vague, which serves to confirm that this can be read as a standalone.
The book certainly has a dramatic start with a couple of gruesome murders, an elderly lady burned to death and the discovery of an ingeniously dismembered male body found in a field. The only clues – a tarot card and the discovery of male ID on the body suggesting he was a missing person of interest in the murder of 3 young children a year ago.
I had no difficulty being drawn in immediately as the storyline was compelling. Mixed in with a dramatic police procedural plotline, were the added subplots of a missing detective, and a murder involving the same location from the 1930’s.
As the body count ratchets up both we and the investigating team are unsure as to who they are looking for, the initial murder suspect or a vigilante intent on revenge. The delivery of tarot cards to those who die, ties in with a underlying magical/mystic theme given that the original murders all took place at the summer solstice in a particularly evocative location.
Anderson and Costello are not the usual double act that we often see in police procedurals with the jokey banter or ambiguous love/hate personal relationship. They are very different characters and although we get glimpses of their personal lives we never really learn a great deal about them. They work well together mostly because for the most part they tend to work independently of each other. They each play to their own strengths, but catch up and collaborate well because of a mutual respect and appreciation of each other’s abilities. That said Costello has a nice line in sarcastic comment regarding some of her other colleagues.
While I enjoyed this book, you may wonder why I only gave it 3.5 instead of a solid 4 (very good). The reason is for me, there was at times just too much going on, I certainly found myself getting confused with characters and who was who at certain times, and this distracted from the plot. This possibly reflects more on my aging concentration abilities than the author, but it did impinge on the overall enjoyment.
If you enjoy good police procedurals and don’t mind a high, quite gruesome (though thankfully not graphic) body count then this will appeal, especially if you can keep track of who is who.
I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.