Carson Ryder has been a police detective in Mobile, Alabama for less than a year. He moved up quickly from patrolman after demonstrating some impressive investigative insights that led to the capture of a particularly clever and nasty psychopathic killer. Now he and his partner, veteran detective Harry Nautilus, constitute the police department’s brand new Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team (PSIT), sneeringly referred to by many in the department as Piss-it.
When a pair of headless corpses are discovered, each decorated with a cryptic message inked onto the abdomen, Ryder and Nautilus find themselves locked in a struggle with a bureaucratic (and ambitious) police captain and his toadying assistant, first to control the investigation, and eventually even to be allowed to participate at all.
With the body count rising—and the infighting within the department reaching higher and higher levels—Ryder finds that, despite his promises to himself, he must resort once again to the same source from which he gained some of the off-the-wall insights in the case that earned him his detective’s shield: He must visit his brother Jeremy, an incarcerated psychopathic killer himself. In doing this, Ryder must revisit his nightmarish past and the awful connection he has with his brother. This time he is also pursued by the realization that someone he knows and cares about is the next target of the killer he is chasing.
Jack Kerley has created an interesting character in Carson Ryder, a smart-ass who is also very smart and competent, despite being dangerously handicapped by a chilling past. Kerley has spun a clever and inventive plot, and he drags plenty of very plausible red herrings into the reader’s path. Finally, and not least of all, when Ryder and Nautilus ultimately confront their quarry, this author knows how to pull out all the stops for a seat-of-the-pants climax.