Written by Ridley Pearson in 1988, Undercurrents is his first Detective Lou Boldt novel.
Sergeant Boldt is investigating the ‘Cross Killer’ – a serial murderer who cuts a crucifix into the victim’s chest. Boldt is assisted by police psychologist Daphne Matthews.
Slowly, painstakingly, their tenacity builds up a criminal profile. Yet this is more than a police procedural novel. Pearson provides poignant observation of people’s flaws, including Boldt’s, not least the disintegration of his marriage. ‘Being a cop is like a terminal disease: it consumes you, entirely, slowly but surely. I’ve allowed it to take everything out of my life. And I’ve suddenly reached the stage where I resent that.’ (p260).
There’s wit aplenty too. Boldt is being hounded by the press, notably because an earlier suspect, who proved to be innocent, was murdered before he could go to trial: ‘You’re getting more press than a pair of cotton slacks.’ (p131)
However, there seems to be more than one killer; there appears to be a copycat, too. Throughout their investigation, the killer (or killers) seem to be at least one step ahead.
Beneath the surface there’s a deep-seated anger at the perpetrator, who denies the innocents of life. If you’ve never read a Lou Boldt book, this is the place to start. You won’t regret making the guy’s acquaintance. I’ve also read the tense suspenseful sequel, The Angel Maker, which I can also recommend. There are nine books in the Boldt series.