Somewhere in London, a lonely young woman is reaching out to the wrong man. It’s up to Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia and the rest of the Murder Squad to find her before a killer does. When fourteen-year-old Gemma Kramer’s broken body is found on the floor of St. Sebastian’s Church, the official ruling is that she jumped to her death from the organ gallery above the altar. But then a witness comes forward claiming to have seen Gemma kissing a much older man before the two disappeared into the church together. And when the toxicology report reveals traces of GHB and alcohol in her system, a full-scale murder investigation is launched. At the helm is Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia, a stubborn cop known for following his hunches. It’s Tartaglia’s first time in charge, and he walks right into a political minefield as the investigation turns up three more suspicious deaths — all involving vulnerable young women falling to their deaths, all initially ruled suicides. In the whirlwind of conflicting theories from the media, criminal profilers, and cautious administrators, Tartaglia and his detectives must connect the dots between victims to find a serial killer with a chilling predilection for lonely girls and deadly heights.
At the start of British author Forbes's entertaining debut, a young woman falls to her death from the balcony of a dusty London church. Det. Insp. Mark Tartaglia and his team quickly discover that Gemma Kramer was lured there to meet a man calling himself Tom, who then delivered murder rather than the romantic suicide pact he promised. Searching the records, Tartaglia and his team uncover two of "Tom's" other victims, formerly classed as suicides, as well as a suspicious death his instinct tells him is linked. Following the clues from two additional murders, Tartaglia and partner Sam Donovan nearly become Tom's victims themselves just before discovering Tom's true identity. The explanation of the killer's motivation and MO isn't entirely satisfying, but this minor lapse aside, this is an intelligently plotted, convincing and nicely textured read. One hopes to see more of the appealing cast of well-characterized police personnel in a sequel.