This crackling psychological thriller introduces police detective Jack Caffery, who is on the hunt for a serial killer the British tabloids have nicknamed "The Millennium Ripper."
The Ripper is behind the murder of five prostitutes, whose bodies are unearthed beneath the rubble of a Greenwich landfill. All the victims have been raped and their bodies horrendously mutilated--but not until after being killed by a dose of heroin injected directly into their brainstems. What stuns Caffery even more is the one detail of the murders the public doesn't know; the hearts of the women have been replaced with live birds sewn into the victims' chests.
Caffery himself is a tortured man, still burdened by guilt over the decades-old murder of his younger brother and frustrated because he cannot bring the man he knows is responsible to the bar of justice. When the Millennium Ripper confesses to the prostitute killings just before taking his own life, Caffery faces his own limitations and begins to make peace with his past. But then another prostitute is found dead, her body ravaged in the same way, a bird where her heart was--and Caffery realizes that his past may never truly be put to rest.
A solid page turner, this gripping debut by a young Englishwoman introduces a complex and fascinating protagonist destined for another appearance. Meanwhile, Birdman will enthrall readers who just can't get enough of Hannibal Lechter. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Treading the grisly path blazed by Thomas Harris in 1981 with Red Dragon, promising newcomer Hayder crafts a blood-curdlingly creepy debut thriller set near the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England. When Det. Insp. Jack Caffery is called in to investigate the puzzling murder of a young woman, he is confronted by a host of ghastly details, not the least of which is a live bird sewn inside the brutally mangled corpse. The timing of the case could not be worse: DI Caffery's relationship with his girlfriend is on the rocks; there's a new DI from CID who's trying to usurp Caffery's Golden Boy status with the superintendent; and Caffery's obsession with his next-door neighbor, a convicted pedophile who Caffery believes may have murdered Caffrey's own long-missing brother, has reached a confrontational stage. The detective and his good-natured partner, Paul Essex, focus the murder case on a seedy local pub, which is both the locus of the area's illegal activities and the watering hole for workers at a nearby hospital, one of whom, Caffery thinks, must be the surgically trained killer. Caffery's CID competitor targets a local black drug dealer, which ups the political and media ante uncomfortably. Caffery's more methodical approach leads him to the man he believes is the killer, whose suicide convinces him he's right. But when more bodies turn up with the same trademark mutilations, Caffery must start all over again, and his new findings lead him to an altogether more appalling conclusion. Hayder is impressively successful in appealing to a broad, multigenre fan base (mystery/police procedural, thriller, horror). She displays a good working knowledge of forensics and English police procedures, and Birdman's plot has more twists than a surgeon's knot. But the weak of stomach are forewarnedAher graphic imagination knows no bounds. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild featured selection. (Dec.)
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