The Creeper by Tania Carver is the second in a series of crime novels where the main character is Phil Brennan, a detective, and his girlfriend/partner/eventual wife Marina Espisito who is a criminal profiler. It is best if you read the first book in this series The Surrogate before this one because there is some background about the police officers and the relationship between Phil and Mariana which will help to fill in some background.
The story centres on a criminal who stalks his victims before taking them and killing anyone who gets in his way. We see some of the story from the stalker’s point of view but these sections are carefully crafted to give us atmosphere but not a lot of information about who is committing these crimes. We also see some action through the eyes of a woman who is kidnapped so we know that the women are still alive even though the detectives are not sure about what has happened.
Phil Brennan and his team are suffering because of the death of a detective in the previous book. They are working with one new detective and one who mistrusts Brenan because she thinks that he prevented her promotion. Their boss is not well liked and Brennan is scornful of him to others and to his face in a way that I suspect would be unacceptable in any work environment. There is a new profiler who seems to be inadequate because Marina and her newborn child have left Brennan.
Phil Brennan is therefore dealing with a boss who he doesn’t trust, new detectives whose loyalty is uncertain, a subordinate who doesn’t trust him, a profiler who doesn’t seem to know her job as well problems at home. All of this comes to the boil when chasing the stalker and means that some of the detectives don’t trust others and there is a tendency for people to do their own thing and not keep others informed. It’s a bit of a surprise that they manage to catch the perpetrator by the end of the book but it is not achieved without casualties.
This book is at the grittier/gory end of crime fiction and I did think that the author enjoyed dwelling on the suffering of the victims a little too much. I also found some of the ways that the characters behaved to each other to be unprofessional and occasionally unacceptable – there needed to be significantly better people management. I enjoyed this book well enough and I have read others in the series but they are not particular favourites of mine.