Bourne Identity meets Criminal Minds in this gritty British crime novel!
The story begins with a murder in the very first chapter. We know there’s Zander who bears a grudge against the wealthy, and he is working with two others on some kind of mission to murder specially selected candidates.
In the next chapter we are introduced to (unfortunately named) Dr Augusta Bloom. She has spent many years as a police psychologist and now works on a consultation basis. She is then told of the “Matchbox Murders”, where murderers are leaving certain numbers of burnt matches, together with a matchbox emblazoned with an eye.
Between them they establish that this is a serial killer case featuring multiple murders. And in one of the murders that takes place, the murderer posed as the victim for several days after the murder.
The police suspect that the murders are linked to a known psychopath and apparent criminal mastermind, Seraphine Walker, who is one of the first people to be interviewed at the station.
Seraphine is very well known to Bloom, because Bloom used to be her counsellor when they were younger.
Seraphine shuts the interrogation down with ease, and there is scant evidence to imply she was ever involved in the Matchbox Murders.
Shortly after, Seraphine meets with Bloom to request a favour, to which Bloom replies that yes, she did owe Seraphine favour, but was not going to carry out this particular favour, and would pay her back some other way.
Shortly afterward, Seraphine takes back her statement on a case involving Bloom’s colleague, ex-MI6 Marcus Jameson, saying that he did not act in defence of a life when he got a man shot.
Seraphine uses this as leverage to get what she wants. Seraphine appears to orchestrate quite the chessboard of genuine psychopaths in positions of high power, including foreign secretaries, presidents, and cardinal priests. And Bloom is persuaded to carry out Seraphine’s task to save her colleague from persecution.
Bloom proceeds to meet with these dignitaries, all the while not knowing what Seraphine’s motives are or what link there may be between Seraphine and the Matchbox Murders.
Meanwhile, Marcus is kidnapped by Seraphine’s arch enemy , Gerald Porter. Marcus is released several days later on the condition that he carry out a deadly task.
As Bloom and Marcus go about what they feel has to be done, there are dangerous liasons, and the intrigue builds, as Seraphine’s motives remain shrouded in mystery.
Bloom becomes taken aback by the ways Seraphine’s connections have infiltrated Bloom’s life.
Sometime after Bloom reports back to Seraphine, Zander becomes more brazen, writing a cryptic note to the police. And then he picks another target that’s close to home, and things become yet more personal.
A lead gets brought in for questioning, and at first it seems inconsequential. But Seraphine somehow recorded it, and gives the recording to Bloom, who then spots something particularly interesting, and the suspect pool changes dramatically in a twist that you do not see coming.
Later, a tense action scene ensues, and the Matchbox Muderers attempt another killing.
It becomes apparent that Zander is not the only imposter to be concerned about.
The reader is shortly left wondering about Marcus Jameson and how exactly he’s going to fulfil his obligation to Porter.
By the end of the tale, the reader starts to feel they get the gist of Seraphine’s intentions although this remains rather vague. Hence the following book after this one.
The tale is told from multiple POVs, so you know what certain characters are thinking as they move through the scenes.
When I initially read the synopsis for this book, it slipped my attention that this book was one in an already on-going series. However this did not be put me off, although I do think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the previous books, because I would have been even more invested in the character’s stories.
I really enjoyed this book, and the true culprit of the murders genuinely surprised me, like a bolt out of the blue, and I’m intrigued to find out how the future books play out.
Book review from Cari Mayhew