Evil Intent by Jane Isaac

The symbol of a pentagram haunts the search for a killer whose esoteric calling card leaves detectives struggling for more meaningful clues as the death toll rises and 666 soon becomes the symbolic number of death as the 999 calls begin to assume the numerical mirror image of the devil.

The series of murders has all the hallmarks of a serial killer yet DCI Helen Lavery is led down a series of blind alleys as she tries to piece the clues together. The reader is teased with fleeting glimpses of a man who appears to have morphed into a darkly dressed Lucifer and then just as suddenly disappears into the ether leaving the police chasing shadows.

The body count rises and terror begins to grip the backwater of Hamptonshire as the narrative switches to focus on the bereaved families who are left to struggle with the secrets their murdered loved ones have left behind.

As the police painstakingly sift through the evidence the battle of wits between right and wrong becomes far more than just a moral sparring match. The reader’s emotional energy is slowly sapped as we empathize with those in the cross hairs forced to continually look over their shoulder but there is also the feeling of impotence, on the part of the police, as their search for the truth becomes increasingly dark.

The plot develops into a perfect storm of deadly paranoia in which tragedy appears to be taunting the police behind every corner. As the killer becomes ever more bolder his confidence demoralises the police and unnerves an increasingly vigilant yet uncertain local population.

The pace of the story creates the tension, with the supporting cast of characters adding the pathos, and although this is a largely humourless plot the relentless drama keeps the reader absorbed. The denouement gives a nod to the greatest detective of all as a cascading waterfall provides the backdrop for the final desperate race against time to salvage good from the clutches of evil.

Published by Legend Press. Price £8.99