Soho, Aug 2004
In the Peninsular just southeast of Melbourne, Australia, Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his police team believe a serial killer is on the loose though only two murder-rapes have occurred, but a third potential female victim is missing. The culprit taunts the cops with letters that to Hal's sorrow end up on the front page of the Progress, edited by his girlfriend Tessa Kane. Hal pleads with Tessa not to publish the correspondence that encourages the killer, frightens people, and enflames everyone, but she says it is legally correct so she does it.
As the media attention to the Peninsular Highway Killer case widens, the investigation goes nowhere. However, the taunting killer with eyes seemingly everywhere turns the inquiries personal when he abducts Police Sergeant Destry's daughter as an apparent insult to Hal and his police squad.
This engaging Australian police procedural is an interesting serial killer investigation due to the intriguing Hal, who must deal with a lot of pressure, some personal, during the case. Hal's wife, who tried to kill him seven years ago, calls him all the time from her sanitarium home and his dispute with his girlfriend on all the news that is fit to print adds internal tension to the hero whose only escape is restoring of old airplanes. Though the sidebars like his spouse's calls take away from the inquiries, they add depth to the hero so that readers know what haunts him as he plays a deadly game of chess with the Peninsular Highway Killer.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner