When fourteen-year-old Gemma Kramer's broken body is found on the floor of St. Sebastian's Church, the official ruling is that she jumped to her death from the organ gallery. But then a witness claims to have seen Gemma kissing a much older man before the two disappeared into the church together. After the toxicology report comes back showing traces of GHB in her system, a full-scale murder investigation is launched.
At the helm is DI Mark Tartaglia, a stubborn detective known for following his hunches. It's Tartaglia's first time in charge, and he walks right into a political minefield as the murder squad turns up three more suspicious deaths -- all involving vulnerable young women falling from strange places, all initially ruled suicides.
DI Mark Tartaglia and DS Sam (Samantha) Donovan are straightforward investigators with no overriding hangups or addictions. There are relationship issues within the department, but that is about as complicated as it gets, and I liked that. I don't mind it when a book focuses on a policeman who is damaged or recovering, but sometimes I like a straight police story. Unfortunately this one is also about a serial killer and that is not my favorite story line.
This book is the first in a series of four books. Although the books are billed as the Mark Tartaglia series, DS Sam Donovan also gets plenty of involvement and attention in this one. At one time she was attracted to Mark, but decided early on that wasn't going to work. There is also a focus on the new head of the group, DCI Carolyn Steele, who is brought in to take over the investigation when it begins to get more attention. Mark resents this but handles himself well in the situation. We get a look at the personal lives of several of the detectives, but not to the extent that it takes over the main story.
For readers who like serial killer novels or don't have a bias one way or the other, I can say that this is a good police procedural and I highly recommend it. The detectives are not overly flawed; they have the normal amount of problems that anyone would have. None of them are perfect; none are know-it-alls. The detection is realistic and there is sufficient action and tension to keep one interested, without any graphic violence.
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 2007.
Length: 341 pages
Series: Mark Tataglia, #1
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: I purchased my copy.