Oh no, I thought, not another police procedural about the rape and murder of young women by a serial killer. So it may be, but it has a number of original features, the most striking being the character of the protagonist, ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn. She is fifty nine, and has been forced to retire from the FBI following a serious riding accident, but more importantly because she shot an unarmed criminal dead, who was after all a murderer.
Being very slim, small and blond when she was young, she specialised in acting as “bait” in cases of serial killing, but eventually she got too old for this, and trained up a young woman named Jessica as her replacement. When Jessica was acting as bait while investigating a famous serial murderer, the Route 66 killer, she was murdered herself by the killer. He has never been caught, and has killed other women since. Brigid has never forgiven herself.
Brigid is now married to Carlo, a former Roman Catholic priest whom she adores, and is determined to keep knowledge of her extremely violent past from him, although of course he does know she is a retired FBI agent, and has met a number of her former colleagues. The one argument I had with the plot was how this very tough and clever cookie could have read her husband’s character so wrongly, but that’s a minor cavil.
Brigid has been living the life of a respectable married woman for some time when her life is turned on its head by the shattering events of the prologue (which I will not reveal). Almost at the same time the FBI contact her to say that the Route 66 killer has been caught, and is going to take them to Jessica’s body. They would like her to accompany them in the hope she can identify it.
In the company of Deputy Sherriff Max Coyote, a young FBI officer named Laura Coleman, and the well-guarded killer, Floyd Lynch, Brigid travels to the wreck of an old car in the desert, which contains two mummified bodies. One, Brigid is able to confirm, is that of Jessica.
At the end of this traumatic day, when Brigid has had to ask Jessica’s father, her old friend Zach, to come to Tucson to identify the body, Laura Coleman confides in her that she doesn’t think Floyd Lynch is the Route 66 killer, and her reasons for saying this finally convince Brigid that she is right. They know that the top brass at the Tucson FBI will never accept this, particularly as Lynch has confessed to the crime and is prepared to plead guilty. If they are to find the truth, they will have to join forces and do it on their own.
Thus begins a plot full of twists and turns with a thrilling climax. Not for the squeamish, but a first-rate story.