Every retiring policeman is haunted by the crimes he’s seen.
Especially his own.

In a lonely hotel room, within the eerie calm of a decaying city, an incomprehensibly violent execution style hit is carried out against members of an international crime cartel.

First on the scene to investigate, on what should be the last day of his police career, is Chief Inspector Jacob Tierney, a man so immersed in the world of crime and the causes of crime that it remains ingrained in his skin at the end of each day like grime in a plumber’s fingers.

Despite the promises made to his achingly lonely wife to give up his career and focus exclusively on the search for their troubled, teenage runaway son, lost somewhere among the city’s other broken inhabitants, Jacob finds himself drawn back to the world he knows best when the ramifications of the sudden killing at the hotel begin digging into his soul. For an unseen killer, hell bent on achieving an insidious objective begins a murderous campaign against the worst of the city’s criminals, beginning with Jacob’s prime suspect in the hotel massacre.

Even with the frustrated pleas from his forlorn stepson Robert, still grieving the unknown fate of his half-brother, Jacob reneges on promises made and immerses himself in the case. And so Robert, facing the fact that, despite living with and providing for his family, his stepfather has also turned his back on them, realizes he is his missing brother’s only hope.

Amidst a fear that hangs in the air like mustard gas, Robert, acutely vulnerable, out-of-depth and dangerously alone, enters the darker corners of the city’s midnight underworld and begins his search among the demimonde of strippers, gamblers, prostitutes, panderers and stone-cold killers whose only currency seems to be drugs, lies, depravity and violence.
With the killer still on his scalp prickling reign of terror and the whole city steeped in a mood of clammy dread, Jacob and his colleagues are no closer to finding, catching or understanding the perpetrator. The gratuity of his crimes suggests a dangerously disturbed individual and yet there is also something cold blooded and controlled about his calculated, methodical intent. As his every abhorrent crime outdoes the last, moral panic breeds among the most immoral of the criminal underworld, all wondering what ghastly evils could be headed their way. Finally a pattern emerges and it transpires that the killer’s main objective is to keep Jacob attached to a world of crime, or a world of crime attached to him, for each carefully constructed murder is a carbon copy of the six notorious murders which remain unsolved from Jacob’s twenty year career and the murderer is revealed to be far more a cunningly intelligent manipulator than a blood lusting sociopath.

As Jacob’s obsession with the case intensifies so does the strain on his already fractured and dysfunctional relationship with his stepson Robert and the two seem to be in danger of crossing a line with each other from which there would be no way back.

The manhunt widens, the killer evading detection and capture and remaining one step ahead of the police at all times and, piece by piece, his murderous odyssey is revealed to be born of a need for extreme vengeance known only to himself. Rob, decent, driven and despairing, battles on in spite of his fear and uncertainty for the sake of his missing sibling. His journey into the city’s unforgiving midnight underworld not only risking swallowing him up as it did his younger brother, but also unwittingly putting him on a collision course with the killer. The unravelling threads of Jacob’s life tangle into a state as messy as murder itself until events finally culminate in an explosion of hidden secrets, murderous vendettas and ruthless crime, forcing the detective to make the ultimate choice between his many obsessions and family love.

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Katharine Collins

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