Paige Riley, a homeless heroin addict, has been missing for over a week. Another young woman hands herself into the station, asking for DCI Anderson, relating a story of being abducted by aliens. A young man has also vanished from the streets of the festival. And then a body is found – folded over in a packing crate.
What seems to be a series of unrelated incidents soon become inextricably linked as it is clear that someone is using the chaos of the festival to carry out a sinister and macabre plan.
This is the eighth Anderson and Costello mystery – the third for me, after The Tears Of Angels and Rat Run. I enjoyed those two, the first more than the second, but unfortunately, this one comes up a little short of those.
I suppose the problem is that it is rather uneven. The opening section of the book is mostly set-up. At this point, we don’t have an inkling of the grand scheme of things, although there is a vague hint on the cover, and we balance the investigation with the personal lives of the two leads. Anderson has got over his traumas of recent books and has settled into his job again, while Costello’s romantic life is at the forefront of the side-plot involving a nursing home – a side-plot that obviously becomes more important as the tale progresses.
Once the reveal as to what might be happening occurs, though, the murderer was, to me, very obvious, with the attempt to hide them not working. One or two other suspects closer to the… necessary description, shall we say, might have helped. And then when we get to the finale, it really becomes strange indeed. But, you know, spoilers and all that.
I think fans of the series will find a lot to enjoy here – the over-the-top-ness of the scheme resembles the scale of The Tears Of Angels, if I recall correctly – but this one didn’t quite click for me. Worth A Look, but I’d start elsewhere in the series if you’re new to Anderson & Costello.
Many thanks to Severn House for the review copy.