In bleak midwinter, the people of Shipcott are shocked by the murder of an elderly woman in her bed. As snow cuts off the village, local policeman Jonas Holly is torn between catching a brutal killer and protecting his vulnerable wife, Lucy.
When the inquiry is commandeered by an abrasive senior detective, Jonas finds himself derided by his colleagues and ashamed to admit to Lucy that he’s been sidelined. It seems his first murder investigation may be over before it’s begun. But when he receives a series of increasingly sinister anonymous notes, Jonas is thrust back into the center of the case. Someone in the village is taunting him, blaming him for the tragedy. Someone thinks he’s not doing his job; someone seems to know every move he makes. And soon Jonas has to ask: Who’s hunting who?
Bauer (Blacklands, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger) joins such contemporary masters of psychological suspense as Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters with her twisted and tricky second novel, set in the Somerset village of Shipcott. When someone uses a pillow to suffocate Margaret Priddy, who was paralyzed below the neck after a riding accident three years earlier, Det. Chief Insp. John Marvel, the cynical head of the local CID, chews out an inexperienced police constable, Jonas Holly, for contaminating the crime scene. Some suspect a mercy killing, possibly by her son, a corrections officer. Apart from Marvel's scorn, Holly must contend with beloved wife Lucy's multiple sclerosis as well as the taunts of the killer, who leaves insulting notes that call his professional abilities into question. More deaths follow, and tension among the police ratchets up. The shattering conclusion pulls no punches and will leave many readers stunned, even as they realize how everything fits together.
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Another thriller by Bauer! Hard to put down.