A helping hand? Or the grip of a murderer? A Glasgow student is found dead in a city-centre alley, kickstarting a trail of brutality that drives DI Ray McBain to the very edge, staring into the abyss… The victim’s family and friends are all under suspicion, and McBain has to untangle a sordid web of lies, blackmail, infidelity and cyberstalking. And when Stigmata, a deranged serial killer from McBain’s tortured past, starts taking out new victims – with the suspects and McBain himself in his sights – the case gets even more treacherous. The pressure intensifies until McBain calls on Kenny O’Neill, his old underworld crony, to help watch his back. Will that be enough to stop the killing?
Readers will sympathize with Det. Insp. Ray McBain in Malone's hard-hitting third outing for the Glaswegian copper (after A Taste for Malice). Ray suffers from traumatic stress disorder manifested in panic attacks and sleep-depriving nightmares. His emotional distress is interfering with his efforts to find the murderer of 21-year-old Aileen Banks, whose body was found in a narrow lane propped up between two dumpsters with semen on her clothing and human tissue under her fingernails. Trying to support Ray are his lover, Maggie; a colleague, Det. Constable Alessandra Rossi; and a close friend, Kenny O'Neill. Despite their efforts, Ray is drawn into a quagmire that threatens to destroy his career, ruin all his relationships, and perhaps even cost him his life. Meanwhile, a ghost from his childhood, a serial killer dubbed the Stigmata, is hunting Ray, piling up corpses en route to a showdown with him. The fast-moving plot builds to a horrifying ending.