Series: Lacey Flint #1
Published by Minotaur on June 7, 2011
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Lacey Flint is a Detective Constable who, despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?
The set up
The prologue opens with two young women clearly in trouble one evening. It was obvious something horrible happened to at least one of them but the scene then shifts to a point in the future. Detective Constable Lacey Flint is leaving the home of an assault victim when she finds a woman who has been stabbed next to Lacey’s car. She’s clearly seriously wounded and Lacey holds onto her as she waits helplessly for emergency medical assistance. Though Lacey isn’t part of a homicide division, she’s included in the investigation because of her involvement at the scene and because she’s sort of an expert on Jack the Ripper. And, it appears there’s a Ripper copycat on the loose.
The heart of the matter
As this is a mystery, it won’t go into details about the investigation and story. The lead Detective Inspector, Mark Joesbury, resents Lacey’s involvement from the onset for various reasons. As the case progresses, Lacey becomes even more central to it as it seems she may be a target (of sorts) of a modern day Ripper. There were so many twists and turns as I fumbled with the clues, always mindful of the weird and unexplained prologue. The author uses lots of short chapters to move this story in ways that left me dizzy at times. The surprise ending caught me completely off guard like few other mysteries have ever done.
The bottom line
I’ve read many mysteries and crime fiction crafted by British authors and they all seem to be pretty skilled at weaving fascinating stories and keeping me off balance. This story is in that same tradition and doesn’t resort to formulaic approaches to keep tensions high and clues complex. Lacey Flint is as much an enigma as the case and there’s still more to be explored. While the case was solved by the end of the story, we certainly didn’t get all of our questions resolved. In fact, it just created more in my mind. It’s an excellent beginning to what promises to be a very strange and intriguing series.
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