A serial killer is torturing and murdering women, then setting them on fire in public places. To date, the police investigation has been lax; until the daughter of a well-known entrepreneur, Peter Bondurant, goes missing, followed by the discovery of a headless burnt corpse in the middle of a park with Jillian's ID nearby. There was a witness to the crime; a young girl Angie DiMarco, who refuses to give her real identity and is reluctant to cooperate with the police and the witness advocate that is assigned to her, Kate Conlan.
FBI criminal profiles specialist, John Quinn, with whom Kate has previously had an affair is brought in to help with the investigation. Sam Kovac and his sidekick, Liska are police officers leading the investigation. Despite Bondurant's insistence that the murderer of his daughter is found as soon as possible, there are few clues to go on and the investigation looks doomed to failure.
Then Angie goes missing from the safehouse she has been assigned to, despite being guarded by a police officer. The fear is that she has been kidnapped by the perpetrator of the crimes so that she cannot give away any information. Then another body is found, also burnt. However, it is not that of Angie, it is the body of another of Kate's witnesses, Melanie Hessler. It seems clear that the murders are turning into a personal attack on Kate, particularly as information the perpetrator has received on the witness' whereabouts can only be the result of an internal leak of information.
The story continues at an amazing pace until literally the last few pages when we finally find out who the totally unexpected killer is.
It was a crime so brutal it changed the lives of even the most hardened homicide cops. The Haas family murders left a scar on the community nothing can erase, but convicting the alleged killer - Karl Dahl - is a start. Only Judge Carey Moore seems to be standing in the way. Her ruling that Dahl's prior criminal record is inadmissible as evidence against him raises a public outcry - and puts the judge in grave danger. When an unknown assailant attacks Carey Moore in a parking garage, two of the city's top cops are called in to investigate and keep the judge from further harm. Detective Sam Kovac is as hard-boiled as they come, and his wisecracking partner, Nikki Liska, isn't far behind. Neither detective wants to be on this case, but when Karl Dahl escapes custody, everything changes, and a seemingly straightforward case cartwheels out of control. The stakes go higher when the judge is kidnapped from her home even as the police sit outside watching her house. Now Kovac and Liska must navigate through a maze of suspects that include the step-son of a murder victim, a husband with a secret life, and a rogue cop looking for revenge where the justice system failed.
Deer Lake is a small Minnesota town where people know their neighbours and crime is something that happens on the evening news. But the illusion of safety is shattered when eight-year-old Josh Kirkwood disappears from a hockey rink as he waits for his mother to pick him up after practice. The only thing the police find is his duffel bag with a note stuffed inside, 'Ignorance is not innocence but SIN'. With each passing hour the search for Josh takes on a more ominus intensity. For Megan O'Malley, the new regional officer of the state criminal investigative unit, it is a test of whether she can cut it in the all-male world of local cops. For police chief Mitch Holt, it is a frightening reminder of the big city crime that devastated his life before he fled to Deer Lake.
California, 1984. Three children, running in the woods behind their school, stumble upon a partially buried female body, eyes and mouth glued shut. Close behind the children is their teacher, Anne Navarre, shocked by this discovery and heartbroken as she witnesses the end of their innocence. What she doesn't yet realize is that this will mark the end of innocence for an entire community, as the ties that bind families and friends are tested by secrets uncovered in the wake of a serial killer's escalating activity.
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