Maggie Gardiner, forensics expert for the Cleveland police department, and Jack Renner, a homicide detective with a killer secret, return in bestselling author Lisa Black’s new thriller as they confront the darkest threat yet to their careers—and their lives.
The body of fifteen-year-old Rachael Donahue—abandoned by society, raised in foster homes, and violently unapproachable—has been discovered at the bottom of a stairwell at Firebird, the secure facility for juvenile offenders in Cleveland. For Maggie and Jack, Rachael’s death comes with a disturbing twist—the girl may have been involved with a much older man.
But Rachael’s not the only resident at the center to come to a dead end. Firebird’s ten-year-old “wild child” has overdosed in the infirmary—back-to-back tragedies that appear to be terrible accidents. As a forensic investigator, Maggie knows appearances can be deceiving. And Jack knows all about deceit. That’s why they both suspect a cold-blooded murderer is carrying out a deadly agenda.
As Maggie’s ex-husband gets nearer to uncovering the secrets that Maggie and Jack must hide, it becomes increasingly harder for them to protect a new and vulnerable victim from a killer with unfathomable demons.
The death of 15-year-old Rachel Donahue, a recalcitrant resident at a Cleveland juvenile detention facility, kick starts bestseller Black's well-crafted fourth thriller featuring forensic expert Maggie Gardiner (after Perish). Rachel fell three floors to the bottom of a stairwell, but whether she was pushed is unclear. As more residents die under suspicious circumstances, Maggie and homicide detective Jack Renner realize that a murderer is loose in the locked facility, where groups of children are carefully segregated and access to them is strictly supervised and limited. That the potential victims can be as lethal as the hunter stalking them complicates the case, as do Maggie's fears that Jack is hiding a terrible secret. The pressure on Maggie only increases when her ex-husband, Det. Rick Gardiner, is assigned to investigate Jack's past something neither Maggie nor Jack can afford to have revealed. Black keeps the suspense high throughout.