Mosby jumpstarts his thriller with a gruesome murder: the bludgeoning of a young woman whose face is completely obliterated. No sooner have Detective Inspector Andrew Hicks and his partner, Laura Fellowes, assessed that scene than another victim is found—a homeless man with no apparent connection to the first victim. There are few clues for forensics to run down, authorities at a loss for motive for the violent mode of death. Not long after, three victims are found, equally random in their connections. All Hicks can assume is that there is no pattern to the choice of victims. It is also clear that there will be more if this madman isn’t stopped.
The public is terrified, the investigation leading nowhere. Hicks desperately tries to put together some kind of pattern, anything to find a way inside the mind of the killer. He dreads each phone call, anticipating news of yet another murder. When one killing occurs in the village where he grew up, Hicks is drawn back into the nightmare of his childhood, a past he would do anything to forget. This melding of past and present, the depth of character development, makes this thriller a cut above most, a story beyond the titillation of murder and the capture of the killer.
While the thrust of the action comes from the brutality and frequency of the murders, Hicks is a complicated protagonist, a career detective with a marriage that may be in trouble. Although his wife is pregnant, the relationship is strained, Rachel Hicks tiring of her husband’s unwillingness to communicate. For his part, Andrew loves his wife but is repressing secrets that have all but crippled his ability to be emotionally intimate with Rachel. Therapy hasn’t helped much, a fragile thread that has kept Rachel from leaving to raise the baby on her own. It is far easier for Andrew to throw himself into the investigation than to deal with his domestic situation, though both his professional and private lives are on a collision course that will soon bring him to his knees.
Mosby deftly layers his novel with the escalating brutality of the crimes, the effects on the victims’ families, the perspective of the killer and the toll the murders take on both the public and authorities. Other chapters hint at Andrew’s past, the trauma that has affected his relationship with the world at large and his marriage in particular. It all comes together in a spectacular confrontation where Hicks meets the killer face to face in a life-and-death struggle. But another twist awaits, an event that suddenly puts everything in perspective for Hicks: his past, his future with Rachel, and the ugly truth behind a vicious series of murders that will leave the reader stunned.