Second in the Marina Esposito creepy horror-suspense series set in Colchester, England and revolving (not very well) around a profiler for the Colchester police.

My Take
I will never understand holding something back from the cops. Suzanne is traumatized. With good reason. So when the police are there trying to help her, why is she so reluctant to respond to DC Hepburn's questions?

Carver is good at creating tension, and I was up all night reading this. I had to find out what was going on. But she has some dumb characters. When Suzanne and Zoe find the "present" in the fridge, why don't they call the cops? Why do they stay?? I'm having a difficult time feeling sorry for Suzanne.

What is up with Marina? One, for a series that supposedly is named for her, she's practically a no-show. Two, She loves Phil, but has to be away from him? She "just knows" he can't help, even though she hasn't told him. She's a psychologist...and as we see almost at the end, she's very good, so she should have some clues as to her own behavioral choices.

Oh, god, I'm just over halfway and I have my suspicions. Although the connection Phil makes is so far out in left field...I never would have imagined it.

Betrayals, greed, self-centered, and weak choices all around by the victims, the cops, the bad guys. It's a regular round robin of destruction, although Carver does create some interesting characters. The stupid as mentioned above, the real-life types who want to do good, the typically evil, and a few who go beyond the clichéd.

I can't believe Fenwick could possibly have risen to the position he held. Maybe his little head didn't start dominating his thinking until this particular case, but he certainly hadn't won any points during his tenure from anyone but Rose. She was certainly a piece of work. She'll screw over as well as screw anyone to get what she wants. I see her as a sociopath who should never have been allowed on the force.

While the story is set in England, I didn't get an English vibe off this. The closest Carver came was using the police ranks, discussing the architecture, and setting it in Colchester, otherwise, the word choices and sentence structure sounded very American.

The contrast between Marina's work and Fiona's was miles apart. While I wasn't that impressed about the police work in this, Carver did a good job of presenting the psychological side of it.

Horror-wise. Oh, yeah. It was definitely terrifying.

The Story
It's a horrendous murder. Detective Sergeant Mickey Philips is new over from the drugs squad and Detective Inspector Phil Brennan are on the scene with a horrific murder. Julie Miller.

Then Suzanne Perry's space is invaded but she has a history of not being believed. One that prevents her from seeking the help she needs. Now she gets to spend time with Julie. Seems she's not so dead after all.

Meanwhile, the cops are struggling to make connections, but the cop in charge is too distracted by issues that will only lead to destruction.

The Characters
Suzanne Perry is a normal woman, a speech therapist not long out of the uni at Essex, working at General Hospital. Mark Turner is her old boyfriend and may still have a key. Professor Anthony Howe was a teacher she reported for harassment. Zoe Herriot is a friend who is also a speech therapist and is bulimic; Adrian Murphy is the boyfriend who accepts her. Jill Miller was an occupational therapist who graduated from Essex University. Her parents are Brenda and Colin Miller. Adele Harrison was reported missing by her mother Paula.

Detective Inspector Phil Brennan grew up in foster homes until he was taken in by Don and Eileen Brennan and then adopted. Marina Esposito is a profiler and Phil's partner and the mother of his daughter, Josephina. Marina is terrified of being a parent. She loves Phil but she's blocked him out. Now she's left him. It's the guilt that's driving her mad.

Detective Sergeant Mickey Philips is a new transfer from the drugs squad. Making a clean start from the corruption in his former squad. Detective Constable Anni Hepburn is angry about being passed over for promotion. Detective Chief Inspector Ben Fenwick, a.k.a., the Cliché King, is insincere and two-faced, in way over his depth. DS Rose Martin was in charge of the original missing person's case and has a relationship with "Ben" even though she's married to Tim, a solicitor. She tends to get all Dirty Harry at the least provocation. The Birdies are DC Adrian Wren and DS Jane Gosling. DS John Farrell is supposed to be investigating Harrison's disappearance. He's the kind of cop who needs to retire. DC Peckhold is more commonly called Milhouse for his resemblance to the Simpsons character.

Chief Superintendent Brian Denton doesn't like Fenwick either. Joe Wade is the senior officer for the armed response unit. Nick Lines is the pathologist. Cheryl Bland is the Family Liaison Officer. Fiona Welch is the profiler they bring in since Marina is on maternity leave. She teaches at Essex University and works at the hospital. I don't like her! She's so judgmental and jumps to conclusions. Good thing I don't do that...

The Creeper has been searching for his love and he believes he's found her. He's loved the planning, but he loves the closeness even more. Dave Terry and Adrian Macintyre are freelance photographers. I agree, they're both obnoxious twats.

The Cover
The cover feels like an Italian Renaissance painting with the nude shoulders of a woman on her stomach who appears to be trying to rise up from a stone slab in a darkened room.

The title focuses on The Creeper, what any sane person would fear in the dark.