As a violent storm rages over the small town of Winter's End, Sheriff Dale Townsend comes upon a chilling scene--a young man, knives in his hands and the body of a woman at his feet.
But the enigmatic suspect refuses to answer any questions, and, bizarrely, there is no forensic evidence to link him to the crime.
So Sheriff Townsend he calls his childhood friend Alex Rourke back to his sleepy home town in wooded hills of north-eastern Maine. After an absence of nearly twenty years, Rourke--ex-FBI interrogator turned private eye--is an expert in navigating the twisted pathways of murderous minds.
But this killer is twisted indeed and very, very clever. And--as a pervading sense of evil descends upon the town--Rourke realizes he may well be an integral part the killer's game. A game that is not yet over....
First novelist Rickards ventures tentatively into Thomas Harris territory with mixed results. Boston-based PI Alex Rourke, a former FBI agent who worked on profiling serial killers, gets dragged out of his routine by a murder in Winter's End, Maine, where he grew up. The local sheriff calls Rourke for help when his undermanned department is confronted with a puzzle a half-naked man was found crouching over a mutilated corpse with knives in his hands, but he refused to identify himself or explain what he was doing at the murder scene. The suspect does open up a little under Rourke's interrogation, but his cryptic responses suggest that he's playing with the detectives, and, more disturbingly, that he waited to be caught so that Rourke would become involved in the case. The clues reveal that the placid rural image of Winter's End is a facade, and that past sins have come back to haunt its leading citizens. While the book succeeds as an atmospheric page-turner, the taunting of the former profiler by an intelligent psychotic who seems to know many personal details is derivative of Hannibal Lecter's games-playing with his adversaries without offering anything new or interesting. Rickards even has his hero and an undeveloped love interest watch a Lecter movie on a date. The final payoff is disappointingly predictable, and the absence of a clever twist lessens the book's overall impact.