The Murder Code - Steve Mosby

This is a police procedural that fit snugly onto my "okay" shelf.

The MC is DI Andrew Hicks, a cool & detached detective in an unnamed city who believes there's nothing that can't be solved through calm logic & statistics. The only thing that's rocking his world even slightly is the fact he's about to become a father.  He never wanted kids (for reasons that will slowly be made evident) & his relationship with partner Rachel is on shaky ground.

Then the murders start. They are violent, graphic and have Hicks & colleague Laura chasing their tails. Neither has any doubt they're all related but they can't find a single tie between the victims. 

In alternating chapters, we eavesdrop as a detective attempts to interview a young boy following a traumatic event in the family home. The little guy is almost catatonic but the cop can't shake the feeling he's not getting the whole story. As these interludes progress, the boy's horrific childhood is slowly revealed but the line between victim & perpetrator begins to blur.

There is also a side plot featuring Mr. Levchenko, a candle maker. His daughter was murdered some years ago & Hicks was the investigating detective. As the body count rises & grips the city, he takes pleasure in watching Hicks squirm during the requisite press conferences.

This is a book that got better as I stuck with it. Initially I found it difficult to connect with the MC. He's portrayed as reserved & emotionally stunted, almost removed from the chaos around him despite leading the investigation. But as the author gradually doles out tidbits of his history, he becomes a more sympathetic character & we catch glimpses of the fragility behind the hard outer shell.

There are several viable candidates for "bad guy" but be prepared to suspend your disbelief when the perpetrator is revealed. His motive is sketchy & how he achieved his goal seems a bit beyond his reach intellectually, not to mention a tad excessive....kind of like using a steamroller to squash a bug. 

Still, I found the evolution of Hicks an interesting journey. His conversations with fellow detective Laura provide moments of wry comic relief & there are several other characters of note. It was just a case of enjoying his personal story more that the actual murder mystery aspect of the book. 

It's a modern day take on Faulker's philosophy that the past is never past. What you don't deal with or learn from may sneak into your present.