Lucy Kendall isn’t a serial killer. The decade spent working in Child Protective Services before becoming a private investigator taught her two truths. One, CPS failed miserably in protecting children. Two, Lucy was more than willing to do it for them, meting out her brand of dark justice in spite of her own fear of death. But Lucy’s crusade is compromised when a self-proclaimed sociopath offers to help—and leaves her no choice but to accept it.
When eight-year old Kailey Richardson is abducted, it sets off a chain of events linked to Justin Beckett, a suspect in a life-changing case in Lucy’s past. The path she’s chosen since dealing with Beckett has been dark and terrifying—but she has no idea just how deep she will go or where the twisted road will take her.
This is my first Stacy Green novel and I’d certainly be interested in crossing paths with Lucy Kendall again. In this, the first of a proposed series, Kendall has her own code of honour – she only ‘murders’ active paedophiles. This is tied in to the finality of a death in her childhood and her certainty that paedophiles do not change their colours.
The release of Justin Beckett, convicted as a child himself, sets Lucy on a path to ‘clear out the garbage’, as one character describes. It’s high risk, she fully expects to get caught and, yet, she cannot stop. However, when she meets up with Chris, a self-described sociopath, she’s forced to think about her choices in more stark terms: is she a justified vigilante or a serial killer?
In much the same way as we have a good and not-so-good side to our own personalities, here Chris seems to represent Lucy’s darker side. He understands her as few others (apart from her computer hacker) do and agrees with her desire to clear the world of those the justice system spits out. Justin Beckett’s brother, Todd, now a detective, represents the goodness of the system when it works – he’s well-intentioned but tied by bureaucracy. And getting suspicious of Lucy …
Green handles the issue of paedophilia well – the horror is implied rather than overly spelled out, but you’re not left guessing either.
I took a while to warm to Lucy – she has an interesting back story but I just couldn’t empathise with her for a long time. However, I’d be curious to see how the story develops with her, how Lucy rationalises her reaction to the next dilemma, and how the Chris-Todd dynamic works out.
From a writing perspective, Green writes with confidence. She layers on the detail and narrative in just the right measure with short, sharp, suspenseful chapters designed to keep the action moving at pace. With enough twists and turns to have you saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t see that coming’, there’s enough here to keep any seasoned reader turning the pages.
*Novel received from author for review