This is the fourth novel by Kaye Davis featuring crime scene specialist Maris Middleton and like its predecessors is set in rural Texas.
The novel begins with a multiple murder in a dog-grooming salon in Bass Cove, which leaves three young women dead. This is a frenzied attack in which each victim has been stabbed or battered multiple times, and posed in a bizarre way. The killer has also daubed the walls with a message in blood. Hanging around the periphery of the crime scene are the strangely clothed members of the Trinity Outreach Church of Redemption, a religious organisation devoted to helping young drug addicts.
Due to the nature of the attack, the case also involves Maris's lover, FBI profiler Lauren O'Conner. The local police and the Sheriff's office are both involved; leaving the case mired in a tangled web of jurisdictional differences. The resistance of Bass Cove police chief, Troy Dan Kennedy, to accepting outside assistance makes it impossible for Lauren to bring in the FBI specialists which she feels will make solving the case easier. The case imposes great strain on both of them, and the combination of that and the hours involved puts their relationship under pressure.
There are two side plots. Maris's friends Shannon and Robin are about to have a baby, but Robin appears to be less committed to both the pregnancy and the relationship than Shannon. This leaves Maris to deal with the stress of being Shannon's reserve birthing partner while trying to solve the brutal killings. Meanwhile Lauren's sister Irene is living with them while on parole for running over her daughter and conspiring to hide the body. There is no love lost between the two women, but Maris puts up with the situation for the sake of Lauren.
All plots are intertwined through the book, with both of them coming to a satisfactory and well-handled conclusion. The search for the killer twists and turns until their identity is revealed, while the domestic situations resolve themselves, as such situations often do, in an incomplete but stable manner. It's as good as the previous books in the series and I'd recommend it.
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