The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer is a multi-layered, spellbinding mystery. This second instalment in the Carver and Lake series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend book one, Splinter in the Blood, as well.
DCI Greg Carver is still on restricted duty following his horrific injuries sustained on a previous case. However, when a suspected serial killer begins displaying macabre art which incorporates parts of the victim’s bodies, Carver and DS Ruth Lake work overtime to catch the murderer. Relying heavily on DC Tom Ivey, Crime Scene Manager John Hughes and forensic psychologist Dr. Kris Yi, Carver and Hughes work feverishly to locate the elusive killer who calls himself the Ferryman. The killer is utilising social media to publicise his displays and the team finds it challenging to protect their crime scenes from outside contamination. Quickly identifying the victims from the displays, Carver and Lake fear several other missing men will soon become part of the Ferryman’s artistic tableaus. Ruth is a little distracted when she notices a familiar face at one of the crime scenes and she is frantic to locate this person in order to figure out their involvement in the case. Carver is concerned about a worrisome new development in the aftereffects from his previous injuries. As the Ferryman’s murders and displays become more and more grisly, Carver, Lake and the rest of the team are under immense pressure to make an arrest. But will they finally get the break they need to uncover the Ferryman’s identity?
Ruth remains troubled about some of Carver’s lingering symptoms, but she is very protective of him. She is very observant and she easily steps in when she notices he is struggling at different points in their investigation. Despite Carver’s occasional slips, he too is quite perceptive and he is well aware that Lake is hiding something from him. In spite of a close working relationship and immense loyalty to one another, both are quick to call the other out for their obvious distractions. Carver is Lake’s boss and he rarely pulls rank on her, but as she becomes in danger of losing objectivity, he is insistent she follow his orders. Ruth is not happy, but she complies with his request which leads to very troubling suspicions as the investigation finally receives a long awaited break. Will Greg’s fears that she is allowing a personal connection to cloud her judgment affect her decisions as the case hurdles to its conclusion?
The Cutting Room is a chilling mystery which features a topical and clever storyline. Carver and Lake are a formidable investigators who diligently follow every clue they unearth. Chapters written from the Ferryman’s perspective provide interesting insight into his plans. With a few very clever red herrings, Ashley Dyer brings this dark police procedural to a shocking conclusion. While the current case is completely wrapped up by the novel’s end, the final page will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next release in the Carver and Lake series.