Badlands

Badlands

Philadelphia police detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are working a new beat: the Special Investigations Unit, AKA the cold case squad. Ironic, given it’s the height of a blazing hot August. But even these hardened homicide veterans are chilled to the bone as the dormant murder case of Caitlin O’Riordan stirs to shocking new life — leading Byrne and Balzano into the dark heart of their city, their souls, and a psyche of pure evil.

They’d seen it before: a teenaged runaway succumbing to the city’s mean streets, her body found in the desolate, dangerous North Philly district called the Badlands. What’s surprising is the corpse’s condition: peering out of a glass display case in a rancid, waterless apartment . . . and inexplicably dead by drowning.

When a man calls and confesses to the murder, the police rush in to arrest him. But instead of a killer, they find a ghastly scene — a jar containing human remains — along with a cryptic clue leading to an unlikely witness.

Laura Somerville lives far from the squalor of the Badlands, and seemingly light-years from any connection to a murdered runaway. But moments after discussing the case with this elegant, elderly woman, Byrne and Balzano make another grisly discovery, and find an enigmatic word spelled out in Scrabble® tiles.

Across town, another victim’s shallow grave reveals deeper mysteries. Her secret diaries portray a woman haunted by a shocking past, and obsessed with finding a wanton killer . . .

The fiend’s methods, modeled after elaborate magical tricks, are a welcome change from the gore typical of the serial killer subgenre. Likewise, Byrne and Balzano possess a psychological depth all too rare in such fiction.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“The new Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne mystery is a novel worthy of comparison with such elite procedural authors as Michael Connelly. Montanari seems poised to take his place on the top ranks of the mystery field.”Booklist (Starred Review)

A Byrne & Balzano Thriller (Book 4)


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