Thursday, September 24, 2009
"Shattered" might keep you up at night.
In England, Joe O'Loughlin just finished teaching a class in psychology when the police ask his help in preventing a woman who is considering suicide. He goes with them and finds a naked woman on a bridge. He attempts to dissuade her but she says "you don't understand" and jumps.
Joe is a decent sort of guy and troubled that he couldn't save the woman. Later, a sixteen year old girl comes to his door. She says she, Darcy Wheeler, is the daughter of the suicide woman, Christine. Darcy tells Joe that she can't believe that her mother would commit suicide in such a manner since she was afraid of heights. She asks Joe to look into it.
He agrees and one person he speaks to is Sylvia Furness, Christine's business partner. However, he doesn't get anywhere so calls his friend, Victor Ruiz. Victor is a retired police investigator. Together they look into Christine's last hours. They find a note in her car "Help Me" and when they show that to the police, the investigation turns from suicide to murder.
Another body is found. Sylvia Furness, is the victim. She is also naked and handcuffed to a tree. She died of exposure. In the following chapter we read what Sylvia went through and learn that the killer checked facts on her daughter and then called Sylvia, claiming the he had her daughter and was going to rape her unless Sylvia would change places with her and agree to his demands.
With this death, the lead investigator, DI Veronica Cray, asks Joe's official help in finding the killer and stopping him before another woman dies.
The story moves well and in alternating chapters we learn the killer's plans and his history. The man is Gideon Tyler, an Afghanistan vet who worked in Intelligence and was a ruthless investigator. We eventually learn that Gideon's wife and daughter have vanished and he is looking for them while taking his hatred out on her old friends.
Joe is a nice character. He is intelligent but has his humaneness with his imperfections such as the Parkinson's disease and inability to help the first woman. He is also having difficulty with his wife and we don't know if this is the stress of his work or if something else is going on. Darcy Wheeler is also an interesting character and since this book is part of a series, I hope to see her in a future book.
"Shattered" has been nominated for a Barry Award and for the 2009 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and CWA Library Dagger award.