The blurb on the back cover refers to a serial killer. Usually that would be a show stopper for me, because serial killers do not fascinate me at all, especially the Mensa type that seem to overpopulate thrillers. If not for Lehane's reputation, especially among various friends here on Goodreads, I'm sure I would have passed. Lehane's serial killer does spout some spooky stupid mumbo jumbo, but by the time I got to it, I didn't give a hoot.
This is Lehane's second novel. I read and enjoyed his first, A Drink Before the War, but noted a few rough spots in it, if I may be so bold, a few places where I thought I may have been able to offer him some writing advice about certain particulars. Not this time. Things fit together tightly without being so polished that it isn't distinct. His detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, remain interesting, most of the time (I skim read some of the "romance", sorry). Character nuance, especially with Patrick the narrator, adds significance and import in just the right doses. Even Bubba, their psycho friend, who ordinarily would induce a give-me-a-break eye roll, escaped my ire. Despite elements that should make you gag, like the serial killer and Bubba, Lehane pulled it off. It helped that I'm familiar with Boston and its surroundings and enjoyed all the references, but that was not all. It worked for other reasons too, like the plot. Kenzie and Gennaro come up empty, end the investigation, and go off on tangents, but it begins to come together at a certain point, then hurtles forward, a pace I really liked.
It was not perfect. For example, some scenes and some plot development relied on too little description and too much dialogue, but even my correct guess about who one of the unidentified killers was did not ruin it for me, because I agree with the unnamed writer for the Daily Express who wrote that "Lehane's hold is wholly unremitting...". Overall, Lehane mixed it up tremendously well. The flaws did not detract from the story, the characters, or the suspense.