Two brutal murders. No witnesses.
The battered bodies of two young girls are discovered in North London, one shortly after the other. Desperate to avoid hysteria in the community, the police struggle to make a quick arrest before the deranged killer can strike again. Not having any luck, Detective Geraldine Steel, recently transferred to London, is called in to make sense of the grisly murders and the killer's unusual signature: he extracts two teeth from each of his victims. With the death toll mounting, Geraldine is running out of time as she hunts for the elusive killer the papers have dubbed "The Dentist."
In Russell's subpar fourth mystery featuring Det. Insp. Geraldine Steel (after 2011's Dead End), Geraldine, now with London's Murder Squad after leaving the smallish Kent police force, tackles an exasperatingly difficult case. A seriously demented collector with a passion for artifacts made from human bones appears to be targeting young black women. Steele and her new detective sergeant, Sam Haley, are part of the team assigned to find a link between the mutilation murder of Jessica Palmer and the disappearance of Donna Henry, but a dearth of forensic evidence and vague eyewitness statements give little to go on. When Sam isn't warning Geraldine that she's alienating some of the team by trying to do everything herself, the pair engage in sophomoric debates about law enforcement. Geraldine's dithering over whether to make contact with the birth mother who put her up for adoption helps humanize her but otherwise doesn't advance the action.