This is the second in “The Girl Who…” trilogy and is a really good read. If you haven’t read the first, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, you do need to read it first as this story is a continuation of the story of many of the same characters and mentions events described in the previous book.
Since the first book, time has moved on and George and Ad have an established but long distant relationship as George is working on her PhD in England. Van Bergen is still battling crime in the Amsterdam police service and fighting his own demons. It soon becomes clear that George and Van Bergen have retained their contact and friendship. Their lives become more complicated as a serial killer goes on the loose, killing across national boundaries, and George and Van Bergen set out to identify and catch the killer.
This was really well told, and the characters were true to themselves and their origins whilst developing and growing in depth. The story was gripping and although there wasn’t a WOW moment, as a whole there is little to fault here and I genuinely couldn’t put it down as I neared the end.
I love the two lead characters but this series has so much more than a central criminal and a couple of good characters. The more peripheral characters are mostly excellent, even in their flaws and irritating ways. I particularly liked that one of the victims is given a history, thereby increasing in the reader both the empathy and the horror of the events. There are a couple of exceptions in respect of the characterisation, as I felt some of the police portrayed are a bit one dimensional, but certainly not all and some are becoming more rounded individuals in this book than they were in the first, especially Dirk and Marie.
The story is well paced, easy to read and real enough to be believable. There are some great one- liners and well written dialogue that actually sounds like speech. The environment is well-drawn whether it’s a strip club, a Cambridge professor’s office, a police incident room or driving through the flatlands of Holland. The writing enables the reader to visualise the scene and the scenery.
My main quibble is the tantalising not quite cliff-hanger at the end which sets things up for the start of book three. I will be buying it even though I hate a book (or TV series for that matter) that doesn’t quite finish properly. 9/10 from me.