This thriller is the American writer´s debut.
On the first page, we meet a decapitated body and the anonymous killer during a violent storm:
“Another maimed form lay on the wet sand, its topmost part shorn away by the flawless blade of a machete. Its wielder dropped the weapon to the ground, grabbed the ankles of the headless body, and dragged the dead weight to the edge of the swamp.”
The protagonist is Will Kempton who has been the local police chief for three relative quiet years. But then his daughter finds the head of the above-mentioned body on the beach, and next the killer leaves another head in the shower of one of Will´s colleagues. Clearly, a vicious killer has found his way to Carmel, someone who directs his crimes towards the Police Department, or perhaps just the police chief.
As things turn into a very personal battle between Kempton and the killer, he has to find sides to himself he thought he had left behind in New Jersey. In between, we also get short sections seen from the murderer´s point of view so we can see when he begins to make mistakes and take risks.
The novel conveys a fine sense of place, Carmel in California in the 1990s, and the protagonist is rather likeable and human. Will Kempton has been alone with his two children after his wife´s death, and he has learnt how much family and loyal friends mean to him so when they are threatened, he is ready to risk his own life for those he loves.
On the whole this is an exciting debut, but now and then the writer has a tendency to tell the reader too much. The story contains some gore and violence, but the writer does not dwell on it in detail. In my opinion, the final duel or chase between Kempton and the murderer is a bit long-winded, however, and I think there are some aspects of this thriller which will appeal to more men than women.
The book was sent to me from the publisher.