(Image from Barnes & Noble)
(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for Lost, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Lacey Flint mysteries. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order. Actually, with Sharon [S.J.] Bolton, I advise reading her novels in order of publication. That way you can avoid spoilers for all characters, including minor but recurring ones.)
After barely surviving her last case (Dead Scared), Detective Constable Lacey Flint is in no condition to do her job. She's on sick leave, a temporary reprieve she wants to make permanent. Hiding out in her flat, Lacey refuses to accept any communication from the Southwark police. Not even from Detective Inspector Mark Joesbury, who stands by the confession he made to her on a dark night at Cambridge University. His feelings for Lacey won't allow him to abide by her request to leave her in "peace."
Although she's not on the beat, Lacey can't ignore the murders that have London on high alert. Four young boys have been killed and another is missing. She doesn't want to get involved, but Lacey's concerned for her neighbor, an 11-year-old boy who is often left home alone. Barney Roberts wants to ask DC Flint to help him find the murderer, but he doesn't want to freak her out, especially since he's pretty sure he knows the identity of the killer. Instead, he goes to her with a more benign request, a plea to help him find his mother who disappeared when Barney was four. Lacey agrees, even though the darkness inside her makes it difficult for her to step outside her own pain.
In the meantime, Lacey's superiors are on the hunt for a killer who handles the bodies of dead boys with a gentle, almost womanly touch. DI Tulloch has always suspected the intensely private Lacey of harboring homicidal tendencies. Is this her work? Barney's suspicions hit even closer to home. Can Joesbury and Tulloch root out the murderer before more boys end up dead? Has DC Flint finally gone over the edge? And what of Barney's mother—can Lacey help a suffering boy find the answers he needs? Can she protect him from the monster who preys on boys like him? Or is she, in fact, the killer for whom all of London is searching?
You may have noticed that I'm a little obsessed with the Lacey Flint series by Sharon (S.J.) Bolton. These mysteries are so addicting that I finally binge-read them all one weekend just so I could get on with my life already! Even though all the books are gritty and gruesome, I find DC Flint appealing enough to follow anywhere. She's an intriguing heroine—tough, mysterious, and brave. And yet she has flaws that are sometimes shocking, but always humanizing. A fascinating leading lady for sure! I missed Lacey's narrative voice in Lost, the third installment in the series, which is told mostly from perspectives other than DC Flint's. Still, the novel's plot is just as twisty and compelling as those of its predecessors, meaning that—once again—I was up until the wee hours rushing to the end of a Sharon Bolton book because I couldn't sleep without finishing. These books are that addicting. I literally have a tough time putting them down. See why I had to read them all in one go? Only problem is now I'm yearning for more Lacey Flint. When will she make a re-appearance? Even her creator doesn't know. How will I cope with that kind of uncertainty? I don't know, y'all, I just don't know ... #bookaddictproblems
(Readalikes: Other books in the Lacey Flint series, including Now You See Me; If Snow Hadn't Fallen [novella]; Dead Scared; A Dark and Twisted Tide; and Here Be Dragons)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language, violence, blood/gore, innuendo, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter
To the FTC, with love: Another library