Minette Walters’ books are a reliable pleasure. True, they are slightly creepy, but often, as in The Chameleon’s Shadow, superficially disturbing characters reveal appealing characteristics and Walters sticks to the bargain we expect from a mystery: that order be restored.
This one is topical: Lt. Charles Acland, a young career soldier, is grievously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He loses an eye, most of the flesh on one side of his face, and his faith in fellow man. Thus, when he is caught up in the search for a South London serial killer, he is his own worst enemy, demonstrating a wicked temper and outlandish physical strength.
Walters uses a vaguely annoying technique, juxtaposing various “documents” such as newspaper columns and police reports to handle necessary exposition. I suppose this frees her to wander more freely in her characters’ psyches, but it does tend to feel cumbersome. On the other hand she does create terrific characters: the weight-lifting lesbian doctor Jackson in this book is great fun. The protagonist Acland reminded me of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher in his stoicism, isolation, and determination to work things out on his own terms. I’d back Reacher in a fight, though.