Just after lunch on a Tuesday in April, nine feet under water, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand. The fact that there's no body attached is disturbing enough. Yet more disturbing is the discovery, a day later, of the matching hand. Both have been recently amputated, and the indications are that the victim was still alive when they were removed.
DI Jack Caffery has been newly seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol. He and Flea soon establish that the hands belong to a boy who has recently disappeared.
Their search for him - and for his abductor - lead them into the darkest recesses of Bristol's underworld, where drug addiction is rife, where street-kids sell themselves for a hit, and where an ancient evil lurks; an evil that feeds off the blood - and flesh - of others ...
At the start of Hayder's superb third crime novel to feature Det. Insp. Jack Caffery (after The Treatment), Sgt. Phoebe Flea Marley, a police diver, retrieves a severed hand from Bristol harbor. Without a corpse, the investigation stalls, until fingerprints identify the hand as belonging to Ian Mossy Mallows, a known heroin junkie. While Caffery pursues the drug angle, Flea uncovers a possible connection to muti, a brand of African witchcraft and traditional medicine that incorporates body parts into its rituals. Digging deeper, Caffery and Flea discover that Mallows may still be alive and the men responsible may be using muti as a cover for even darker purposes. Meanwhile, Flea mourns the accidental death of her parents two years earlier while they were diving in a remote pool in Africa's Kalahari desert. Hayder vividly evokes torture and drug abuse, but the violence is never gratuitous. Readers looking for visceral thrills need look no further than this gritty English series.