Charlie Flint is a profiler who is on probation because her testimony freed a man who went on to murder four women. She is asked by Corinna Newsam, her old tutor, to investigate the lesbian lover of the tutor’s daughter, Magda. Corinna Newsam thinks that this lover, Jay Stewart, may be a serial killer, because several people who were in her way conveniently died, including Magda Newsam’s husband on the night of their wedding.
Charlie finds herself attracted to a woman she meets in a seminar. (Spoilers follow in this paragraph and the next. I usually don’t include spoilers, but these are integral to my criticism.) This woman is clearly manipulating her from day one, and in the course of her investigation, Charlie violates the confidentiality of the people she is investigating by confiding in her. Of course, without this happening, there wouldn’t be a plot, but it is still the crux of my problem. I don’t think it would be likely that a person in her position would make the mistake of confiding information on a sensitive case to a new acquaintance, even if she is dating her.
It is the nature of this violation that bothers me most, as it is extremely unprofessional and I felt it unlikely from a profiler. Of course, the woman actually turns out to be connected to the murders, and this coincidence also bothered me.
Finally, I am reluctant to say this for fear it will be misconstrued, but at least five characters are fretting about their sexuality. These characters are lesbians, but I don’t enjoy this kind of emphasis in heterosexual literature either.
I am a big fan of the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books, and I also like the Kate Brannigan series by McDermid. I know she has a Lindsay Gordon series, but I don’t think I have read any of those. McDermid has written some of the best stand-alone thrillers I have ever read, particularly A Place of Execution. I was disappointed not to enjoy this novel as much.