As this newest entry in the Taylor Jackson series opens, although the serial killer whose death ended the last book, “So Close the Hand of Death,” is no longer around to continue his terror campaign, his legacy is very much alive: Both Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her closest friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens Loughley [“Sam”] are still traumatized by the events which led to his death at Taylor’s hand, one month earlier. [The two women’s jobs are described by the author thusly: “Taylor protected the living inhabitants of Nashville; Sam uncovered the secrets of its dead.”] Taylor suffers from a combination of PTSD and guilt, in addition to the aftermath of the gunshot to the head which she sustained, following which she was put in a medically induced coma and then didn’t waken for another week; Sam had been horribly tormented and brutalized.
The series should probably be read in order, as there are a lot of backstory references and characters: The mysterious man known as Atlantic, the whole history of The Pretender [the aforementioned serial killer], etc. This book has an unexpected change of venue, from Taylor’s native city to the UK, when her erstwhile suitor, James “Memphis” Highsmythe, the Viscount Dulsie, invites her to spend the holidays in his castle [yes, ‘castle!], to help her recover from her emotional, physical and psychic wounds. Since she is experiencing some unexpected ambivalence in her relationship with Dr. John Baldwin, to whom she is now engaged – – some friction has developed over an issue having to do with his son, another part of that backstory – – she decides to accept his invitation.
Once Taylor arrives in Edinburgh, she finds that Memphis, a Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police, is in the midst of investigating a series of disappearances: three teenage girls have gone missing in London, and he is in charge of the case. Much of the rest of the tale deals with that investigation, as well as Taylor’s attempts at recovery and the complications caused by her relationship with Memphis, a recently widowed man equally mired in grief over his wife’s somewhat mysterious death as with his passion for Taylor.
Another well-written and engrossing entry in a terrific series, this one is also recommended.