The second police procedural in the DS Thomas Hutton series pits the complex and downtrodden lawman against a brutal serial killer with a penchant for public violence in the most macabre fashion.
Hutton, living as a recluse in the woods following a mandatory leave of absence from the force is brought back into the modern world where he's reinstated to capture a killer who's sadistic nature is like nothing the police have seen. The victims taken to a secluded woodland area, are cemented in place, tied to a chair, and the tops of their skull removed, leaving exposed brain matter for the circling crows. More horrific - the victims are forced to watch one another as the hungry birds land and devour their gruesome meal. As the slowly dying cant feel their life being taken away bite by bite, the onlookers and fellow victims watch in horror. This story is not for the fainthearted.
In THE UNBURIED DEAD (book #1) we were introduced to Hutton's womanizing ways and uncompromising investigative prowess, and this instalment is no different despite the added characterisation and backstory applied to Hutton. His time in Bosnia is fleshed out with the events a major factor on his current day self. This added another level of depth to a series that is reminiscent of McBain's 87th precinct (in terms of characters and varied plots).
Like the Barney Thomson books, author Douglas Lindsay ensures there is a healthy dose of humour to balance out the serious nature of the disturbing killings. I was at once cringing at the horror of the murders and then laughing from Hutton's interactions with the finer sex. It takes a talented author to pull off such a seamless switch of gears and Douglas Lindsay is just that.
I'm looking forward to reading more entertaining cases featuring Thomas Hutton. As for A PLAGUE OF CROWS, it's an essential read for those who are familiar with the character from the first book and fans of the Barney Thomson series.