Book review: Lovemurder by Saul Black
In crime fiction, murderers come and go'¦ some are bad, some are very bad and some are downright evil.
Saul Black, London-based author of numerous acclaimed novels under his real name Glen Duncan, including The Last Werewolf trilogy and I, Lucifer, has given life to some of the deadliest of the species but the serial killers facing homicide detective Valerie Hart are truly the stuff of nightmares.
This is the second blistering outing for the intrepid San Francisco cop whose terrifying white-knuckle ride in Saul’s series opener, The Killing Lessons, left readers begging for more, and the critics knocked for six.
Brimming with stomach-churning violence, spine-tingling psychological tension, black humour and fast-paced action, these pulsating, brutal, graphic stories, written from the darkest corners of crime fiction, are not for the faint-hearted.
In Lovemurder, homicide detective Valerie Hart must try to get the better of a rampant sadist and a killer-queen psychopath with beauty, brains and the manipulative powers of Beelzebub as she races to solve one of her most disturbing cases yet.
Valerie is planning a rare weekend away with her boyfriend when she gets a call telling her that a body has been found. A 54-year-old woman had been raped, tortured and strangled in her own apartment.
Even more troubling is a cryptic note left next to the body and addressed to Valerie. As Valerie analyses the scene, the clues begin to point in a deeply disturbing direction… to a maximum security prison where a woman called Katherine Glass is awaiting execution for a series of gruesome killings.
Six years ago, Valerie was the cop who put Glass behind bars after she was convicted of being partner in crime to a murderer and torturer known as the Man in the Mask who videoed the hours of unspeakable suffering of his six female victims.
The mystery man was never found; he is still out there, ‘unknown, untouched and almost certainly undeterred.’ But the last thing Valerie wants to do is re-enter the twisted world of Katherine Glass. Exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely cruel, Glass has the brain of an intellectual and the mind of a psychopath, and just interviewing her had left ‘dirty marks’ on Valerie that would never fade.
When a second body is discovered, with another puzzling clue, she realises she now has no choice. Glass holds the key to the killings and Valerie needs to find out what she knows before the murders come even closer to home.
It means meeting up once again with Glass, the woman with ‘the smiling look that said she knows your soul’s story,’ and there is no guarantee that this dangerous woman will help Valerie to track down the madman at large…
Saul dishes up a complex, clever and compelling chiller-thriller as Valerie plays cat-and-mouse with a ruthless murderer and an enigmatic female accomplice whose motives remain electrifyingly uncertain and menacing.
Writing with his trademark flair, intelligence and fluidity, Saul turns the tense, unnerving confrontations between the inscrutable Katherine and the cool-headed Valerie into a series of edge-of-the-seat show-stoppers which are just a prelude to the final, terrifying showdown with the Man in the Mask.
Intriguing, unsettling and utterly compulsive, this is a series that could run and run…
(Orion, hardback, £14.99)