“George Markham has a nasty little hobby. He persues it in secret, behind closed doors. But now George’s little hobby is becoming an obsession, one that erupts into an orgy of vicious sexual depravity.
Patrick Kelly is a hard man – the most feared man in london. His one soft spot is his daughter Mandy. And when she falls victim to the sadistic rapist nicknamed the Grantley Ripper, Kelly wants revenge – with or without police help.
The DI in charge of the case is Kate Burrows. It’s a tough job and one that’s already cost Kate her marriage. She feels for Kelly – she’s a parent herself – but her growing involvement with a known criminal is putting her career at risk…
As the forces of law and order and London’s underworld converge in a mammoth manhunt, Kate fears she’ll lose everything she’s ever cared about to… the ladykiller.”
I recently revisited this book this book having not read it for a good decade or so. Let me start out by explaining that I am not a fan of gory descriptions, nor am I usually a fan of books that go into explicit sexual detail, so there are parts of this book that I skim read. Though I need to be clear that there are not a silly amount of those parts – this book gives most of its thrills and chills through the terrifyingly matter of fact segments from George Markhams perspective.
The way that Cole portrays Markhams absolute indifference to his victims is simply awful – it is cold, arrogant and really quite painful to read at times – and that is the perverse beauty of this book. The author balances the cruelty of the killer with the compassion of Kate Burrows for his victims, and her strong sense of right and wrong.
What I found really interesting throughout this book was how the author also contrasted Kate Burrows against hardman Patrick Kelly, also in a matter of morals. Despite both being opposites of Kate the two men are starkly contrasted from each other in the authors gradually building narrative of where the line between right and wrong blurs, and what justice means in different worlds.
She goes further in describing in detail exactly how George Markham became the man that he is in the present day parts of this book, and these sections are even more painful to read. In all honesty, having read the book previously I skim read these sections as well, but they are crucial in building the depth of charecter needed to truly appreciate the person who commited all of these atrocities.
I admire the writing and the ‘who-dunnit’ tale interwoven with a handful of tantalising ‘little did they know’ moments scattered throughout the book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book, if not one that I plan to re-read again particularly soon. I find that while I love a mystery, I need to be in the right mood to read about the really dark corners of humanity, which Martina Cole did in a fabulously bleak way in this book.