This was the first book I read by Martina Cole, a British author of crime fiction. That I intend reading more of her work indicates my recommendation for this novel which is set in a small town in England.
In “The Ladykiller”, Detective Inspector Kate Burrows finds herself in the middle of a storm as a spate of murders takes place in her jurisdiction. There are a few common features about these murders. Without exception, all the victims are women. Without exception, the bodies are terribly mutilated. The signs point to a sick mind and a pervert roaming free in this hitherto peaceful town. Burrows has come up the hard way in the Police force and is now seen to be a successful officer. However, some men who are her subordinates still do not accept her leadership not able to stomach her rise in the police force only because she is a woman. To add to the stress caused by this case Burrows,who has been separated since long, is attracted towards Patrick Kelly, a man well known in the underworld.
Despite all that he does in the underworld, Kelly cares more for his daughter than anything else in the world. When she is found murdered, Kelly starts his own investigation to nab the murderer. He wants the murderer to suffer as much as his daughter did. He is frequently in touch with DI Burrows ( who is dealing with his daughter’s case) and finds himself falling in love with her. They both have the same goal, to catch the murderer but have opposite opinions on what to do after the man has been caught.
George Markham has had an extremely unhappy childhood but is today as nondescript as anyone else in town. He lives in a world of fantasy for most of the time. This story traces events which made Markham the man he became. A simple accountant in a firm during the day and a hungry predator capable of the worst violence at night.
The book is gripping in most part but I did feel it was too long at 625 pages. There was also some element of repetition. Several of the characters are mentioned to have had the grace to look away when accosted by the truth. This mannerism appears several times in the book in several characters, which I found rather strange.
All in all, a good read. I shall look out for more books from Martina Cole. I find she has written a dozen thrillers so there are many more to be read.