Written by Marnie Riches — When the dismembered corpses of sex workers begin to turn up in Amsterdam, Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen knows he has a serious case on his hands. The bodies have all been disemboweled and the suspicion is that a ritualistic killer is at work. Suffering ill health and addicted to painkillers, van den Bergen is struggling to put all the pieces together. He believes his ex-sidekick, Georgina (George) Mackenzie, can help. But George is across the channel in the UK, studying for a postdoctoral degree and has her own problems
Her life is as chaotic and full on as ever. While working as a cleaner in a strip club to make ends meet, her degree research involves interviewing convicted psychopath Silas Holm. Her boyfriend Ad remains in Amsterdam suffering the effects of a long distance relationship and George has never quite forgotten her feelings for van den Bergen.
So when the detective comes calling George drops everything to join him, putting her studies and relationship with Ad at risk. She quickly determines that the ritualistic assumption is incorrect. Instead, organs are being harvested from both men and women and the bodies dumped outside the city. As she and van den Bergen chase the killer, Silas Holm is reaches out from his cell in the UK and tries to play mind games with her. Will the pair find the culprit before more pay the ultimate price?
This is the second in a series of three novels which focuses on George Mackenzie, a powerful, no nonsense protagonist if there ever was one. Although four years have passed since The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die life for the main characters has really just been on hold until a new case erupts.
The story has shades of a Hollywood film with its fast pace and plenty of action. It is multi-layered, with several blind alleys which Riches neatly leads us down. Just when you think you have it all figured out, she throws another banana skin in. The subject matter is the darkest shade of black, incorporating pornography, murder, prostitution and abuse.
Book two is a step on from the first, and altogether grittier. The supporting cast, such as Silas Holm, are just that bit more evil, along with the games they play. Detective van den Bergen’s character is developing as well. He’s conflicted with his feelings for George and his addiction to the pills makes him more vulnerable than his previous incarnation. George is just as feisty as ever, yet Ad has become more of a wimp, fighting to keep together what’s already a dead relationship.
Several locations again provide shifts in the narrative, with the action occurring in genteel Cambridge, down at heel South London and degenerate Amsterdam. Parts of George’s past touch her again in this installment, but as much as anything it’s about George renewing herself and letting go of her history.
This is a well written, pacy, complex ebook where criminology and motive play strong parts. It should appeal to readers who like noir-ish crime heavy on grit. Readers who liked The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die will more than likely lap up this next installment.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars
Thanks so much for this wonderful review! Glad you enjoyed it, Keith!