A victim on display. A detective on the rails.
Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.
This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.
As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?
This is the third book in the DI Amy Winter series and my first book by Caroline Mitchell and …I’m hooked!
DI Winter has a lot of things on her plate. DCI Hazel Pike retires and is replaced by DCI Donovan. Once they shared a fleeting moment of understanding and camaraderie, but now Donovan is asked by the superiors to watch her every step and make sure she does things by the book. Amy is dealing with her father’s devastating dealth, frail health condition of her mother Flora and her biological mother Lillian Grimes’s court appeal. The public might see Amy as a serial killer hunter, ‘psychopath whisperer’, but the truth is a lot of her insight comes from growing up alongside unimaginable darkness of her parents’ horrible crimes.
On her shopping trip with her older sister Sally-Ann, Amy notices something off with the beautiful mannequin in the shop window. Amy’s instincts turn out to be right- the body of a drugged and tortured young woman was left there on public display for hours.
Thorough as usual, Amy has an interview with the owner of the company responsible for the display design. To Amy’s shock, this turns out to be one of the most bizarre and disturbing conversations she’s had. Amy is convinced she has her killer, but can she prove it? and can she save other young women from becoming victims of the Lover Heart Killer?
I loved the protagonist and the whole cast of secondary characters that were well-drawn. Amy’s personal life struggles do not take away from the main plot, but rather enhance it as the killer is obsessed with Amy’s biological parents and their crimes. I even learnt a new word from this book ‘hybristophilia’- an attraction for people who have committed really dark crimes. Amy herself needs to accept where she comes from and who she is.
The book is a compulsive page-turner with its tight plot and relentless pace. There is something about Caroline Mitchell’s writing style that keeps the reader’s attention engaged throughout the book.
I will go back and read the previous two books, because I want to get a bit more perspective on Amy’s family issues, but it is possible to start following the series from this one as well.
Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.