Like everyone reading the newspapers these days, 10-year-old Barney Roberts knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. The body will be drained of blood, and left somewhere on a Thames beach.
There will be no clues for London detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find. There will be no warning about who will be next. There will be no real reason for Barney’s friend and neighbor, Lacey Flint, on leave from her job as a London police detective, to become involved…and no chance that she can stay away. With the clock ticking, the violence escalating, and young lives at stake, Lacey and Barney both know they can’t afford a single wrong step if they hope to make it through alive.
Like This, For Ever is the third instalment of the Lacey Flint series and while I think it has an excellent plot, I’m starting to get really weary of Lacey.
Several months after the events of Dead Scared, Lacey is on medical leave and having doubts about whether she has what is takes to be a policewoman. Despite the progress she made over the previous books, Lacey seems to have taken a giant step backward as she has cut herself off once more from her colleagues and the man who loves her. I had hoped Lacey and Mark’s relationship would have stopped going around in circles by this point, particularly after his declaration of love, but alas, we are back to square one.
Despite her best intentions not to get involved with other people’s issues, Lacey soon finds herself embroiled in the latest case puzzling the Met, a serial killer who is targeting young boys with no discernible pattern. Lacey is drawn into the case when the young boy living next door and his friends launch their own investigation into the disappearance of their friends. Barney becomes obsessed with the killings to the extent he begins to suspect his own father is involved but the real killer is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse on Facebook. The mysterious poster in Facebook is using the alias Peter Sweep and he knows far too much about the victims and their deaths not to be involved. Each time a boy disappears, activity on the Facebook page explodes and it is a worrying indictment on how social media is changing how we share information. The police always seem to be one step behind everyone else but Bolton does a good job of ensuring they don’t look too stupid when the truth begins to unravel.
The murder plot was nicely done with Bolton making good use of literary references throughout and it all unfolds quite logically. As you would expect, there are a lot of twists and turns, as well as red herrings, but maybe I’m getting wise to Bolton, because I figured out who the killer was quite early on, although there were moments when I did doubt myself. There are also quite a few predictable moments as it was pretty evident from the start that Mark Joesbury’s son would be abducted. The relationship between Mark and his son is a nice touch and I hope he appears more frequently as he acts as a good bridge between his father and Lacey.
My growing ennui with the Lacey character isn’t helped in this book by the appearance of Dana Tulloch, a character I have loved since her introduction in Sacrifice. As far as I’m concerned, Tulloch is a far more interesting character than Lacey and I liked how she had a bigger role in this story since she did not appear much in the previous book. Tulloch has a hard time with the murders as she is preoccupied with her own biological clock ticking away and she has some very nice scenes where she confides her desire for children to Mark. Tulloch and Mark have a such a great relationship and it highlights how good Mark could be for Lacey if she could just let him in. I would love for Bolton to give Tulloch her own book, exploring her long distance relationship with Helen and what it means to be a gay cop in this day and age.
I’m assuming the Lacey Flint series is not over but I hope Bolton takes a different approach because I’m not sure if I can take any more of Lacey’s issues if her character is never to move forward. I also miss Bolton’s stand-alone books to some extent as they were far more chilling.