Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel leaves her old life behind when she relocates to a rural area, including a failed romance. Expecting her job to be less stressful as a part of the mobile Murder Investigation Team in Woolmarsh, Steel has barely gotten settled when a shocking murder sends the team into action. Under the stewardship of DCI Kathryn Gordon, Steel is conscious of her role as a senior detective, the majority of the team being male. But Geraldine is a go-getter, which certainly has contributed to the demise of her relationship; in essence, Geraldine is married to the job. Mostly, that's a safe place for this driven protagonist, her single-minded attention to detail the reason for her success. The loneliness that Steel suffers along the way is the price she is willing to pay.
The strangulation murder of a helpless young girl in Woolmarsh Park creates havoc in the neighborhood, the police- or "filth" as some choose to call the authorities- are determined to turn over every rock to find this killer. While Russell's driven Detective Inspector reflects a serious work ethic and the tedium of real investigation, it is the killer who brings another level of horror to this tale. Living in his own universe, with a twisted and disturbed perspective of the world, the killer is compulsive, increasingly violent and comfortable with being overlooked by passersby, a quality that allows him to pass, unnoticed, sneaking up behind helpless victims, overpowering them as he snuffs out their lives. A faceless murderer nobody remembers- the murder squad is frustrated at every turn, unable to find any links to identify a suspect as one murder after another terrifies the public.
The supporting characters are quirky, part of the fabric of this quietly stunning thriller, a young Detective Sergeant who sees more than Steel is prepared to deal with, a sleazy boyfriend who beats his girlfriend but stops short of murder and a helpful school teacher whose brush with the killer puts her in grave danger. As the body count rises, Geraldine reverts to her instinct for detail, the odd fact that will lead her directly to the demented killer, perhaps even make her his next victim. A grim and satisfying read, starring a great protagonist. Luan Gaines/2010.