Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-1250028563
June 4, 2013, 400 pages
London is in the midst of a series of murders by a serial killer, a particularly terrible series killer. Because the victims are children. So far 5 boys, age 9 and 10 have disappeared and 4 bodies have been found at low tide on the banks of the Thames and a creek that feeds into it.
And the police have not a clue.
Officer Lacey Flint is not part of the official police investigation this time, since she is out on medical leave from her last adventure detailed in Dead Scared. The issues are psychological, not physical, and if you know Lacey from the previous books in the series, that should not be surprising. I doubt that is a more troubled, more damaged lead character in a series out there, nor one I like better. So while she is not officially involved, you just know somehow she will once again be in the middle of things.
She is in a bad state, almost lost, on the edge about to go over. But when a child is in danger, and she has some information that might help, can she pull herself together?
The involvement will come in the form of one of Lacey's neighbor, a young boy named Barney. Barney is a sweet boy, very smart, more than a little odd, and often left to his own devices, since his father is often out late at night. His mother? Well, she has been gone since Barney was very young and, in fact, that is one of his obsessions, to try and find her. Another is, with a small group of his friends, to try and figure out who the murderer is. But Barney's greatest fear is that the killer is very close to home. Very close.
He is lost...hmmm...a Lost Boy...
I read an article about S.J. Bolton on the Huffington post recently, and the author called Bolton the Queen of psychological thrillers. Truer words have not been said.
I am a fan of many series, but this one may be at the top of my list. Yes, it has great characters and Bolton's is so skilled at creating smart, believable characters who you will become totally vested in. And this book, I think even more so than the others, has a great setting, these cold, damp rivers, more than a little creepy, especially as Bolton paints them.
But what makes these books really stand out are the plots, clever, smart, such very good plots. Wow, I use the word smart a lot with these books but only because they are. This is a scary book, but not because it is violent, at least not violence that we see, except for the very exciting conclusion. Ok, and the very creepy finding of one body. No, the scariness is in our minds, built up slowly, piece by piece, red herring by red herring, dark rainy night by dark rainy night. Why, for a time we start to think Lacey's involvement might be even closer than we want to believe. After all, her best friend in the world is a serial killer, who she still visits in prison. And then, there is the lying to her therapist...there is her very troubling new interest in blood. That hardly seems normal, but again fans of Bolton know that normal is not a word many use with Lacey. And they...I mean the people she deals with on a daily basis...don't know the half of it.
This is the third book in the series... or 3 1/2 if you count a nice little novella, and it is perhaps my favorite.
But please, you must read them in order, or at least read the first one first, so you will have some idea what makes Lacey tick. Well as much as we can, because we are still learning, but that first book tells us a good deal that we must know. And then when you finish this series, you can go ahead and read Bolton's free standing books, with just a tiny bit of crossover to the series to get your attention. And they will help keep you busy with some very good books until the next in this series comes out.