A dark figure cuts through the shadows, their destination a quiet home in Honor Oak Park. They have murder on their mind and their target? Dr Gregory Munro, a local GP. The method is well planned, all bases covered. Drink spiked, phone lines cut and electricity turned off. They are meticulous and they are patient and so once inside the house, they wait…
When the Doctor’s body is discovered, it has all the hallmarks of a sexually motivated murder. Recently separated from his wife, there are aspect of Munro’s private life which certainly bring into question whether his life was as straightforward as his mother would have them believe. When DCI Erika Foster and her team are called in to investigate, Foster knows that there is more to this murder than meets the eye. Complicating the investigation further is the conflict which exists between Munro and his brother in law, a man who incites hatred and stirs up Petersen, but who harbours his own secrets making him not unknown to the police.
When a second body is discovered in identical circumstances, Foster knows that this is more than a simple sex game gone wrong, that the killings have the hallmarks of a serial killer, but their profile is not one that Foster or her colleagues would necessarily suspect. A third victim is found, a man very close one of the team, and a simple threat left on his answerphone quickly turns them into a suspect, making the case more than personal for Foster. She trusts her instincts and is determined to prove their innocence, even when the SIO is adamant that they have their man.
‘The Night Stalker’ is the second instalment in the DCI Erika Foster series. In this book we get to learn more about Foster and the raid which claimed the life of her husband, a trauma from which she has never been able to recover. The damage has been done and each and every day the battle she fights with her demons colours her work and her reputation, something played to good effect by Bryndza in this book. She is somewhat of a maverick, relying greatly on instinct as much as solid police work, bypassing protocol and hierarchy in favour of getting to the truth. We learn more about Petersen who has been a little bit of a closed book throughout the first story and are treated to a little more of the ‘softer?’ side of Foster as her friendship with pathologist Isaac is developing throughout the story.
The pacing in this book is excellent. The chapters are kept short and the tension builds right up to and beyond the point that the identity of the killer is revealed. This isn’t so much as a whodunit or even howdunit as the reader is able to look over the shoulder of the killer as they commit their crimes. There is also no big reveal at the end as the murderer is disclosed to the reader about half way through, although the savvy and observant amongst you will have probably worked out whodunit before this point. This is more about why and about how Foster will be able to prove it. As the killer takes a personal interest in Foster, it looks like she will be once more in the firing line, making her need to solve the case very personal indeed. The devolution of the killers already fragile mind is not sensationalised or trivialised and this keeps the story believable and yet somewhat unpredictable.
I love the fluid writing style, the way in which, in spite of knowing the killer, Bryndza still manages to keep the surprises coming and the tension high. There is always a feeling of Foster working from the outside, accepted by her team but not fully by the top brass, and the conflict between her and senior officers certainly adds to the interest in the story as she is doubted at every turn of the investigation. She is damaged, she is flawed, she plays by her own rules and the events at the end of the story will make you wonder what next for our heroine. I can’t wait to find out.
Thanks to Publishers Bookouture and Net Galley for the advance copy in exchange for my review.
A tension filled 5 star read – highly recommended.
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