HarperCollins Publishers: 6/18/19
eBook review copy; 448 pages
The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer is a very highly recommended police procedural/thriller with Detectives Lake and Carver on the search for a serial killer.
Detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are searching for a serial killer in Liverpool, England, where men are disappearing. When they arrived at the first crime scene, they are shocked to see sections of human brains encased in plexiglass and set up as an art installation on display for everyone to see. The gruesome crime scene becomes even more surreal when a crowd of people show up at the scene, to see, photograph, and film the "art" and the investigators. The serial killer is dubbed the Ferryman and is gaining a wide following across social media. The brain sections belonged to three of the missing men. It becomes clear that the Ferryman is a narcissistic exhibitionist psychopath who craves an audience and accolades for his ghastly exhibitions. He alerts both the detectives and his groupies via social media whenever he sets up a new installation.
Both Ruth and Carver are still recovering from their last run-in with a killer, but focus on finding this latest fiend. Ruth never forgets a face and she closely examines photos of all the people who show up at the crime scenes. After his head injury, Carver sees auras and experiences synesthesia which allows him to read people's emotions. The two work to overcome or hide any personal issues while searching for the killer, and this looks like it might be too personal to Ruth.
Chapters follow the point-of-view of Ruth and Carver, with brief passages from the killer presented between. Both Ruth and Carver are interesting, complicated, intelligent, well-developed characters. Following their investigation and the actions of the killer is absorbing and engaging. The tension is palatable as the duo work together looking for the killer, while still keeping some personal information to themselves.
This is an excellent police procedural/ thriller that is completely engrossing. The quality of the writing is outstanding. Dyer (a pen name of former CWA chair Margaret Murphy and forensic expert Helen Pepper writing together) creates a complex plot, an intricate investigation, and well developed characters. There are twists and false leads. The forensics details are fascinating. The killer's focus on social media followers is a timely, subtle social commentary. This is the second book in the Carver and Lake series; the first is Splinter in the Blood.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.