Mo Hayder’s debut thriller Birdman garnered heaps of praise. This is her second (2001) and also features DI Jack Caffery. His previous case soaks into his psyche, not least because he’s bedding a survivor from that time, Rebecca. He's your typical flawed detective.
If you’ve read Birdman, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, prepare to enter dark territory; you can jump in here without losing too much in the way of backstory, as references tend to fill you in. If you’re of a sensitive disposition, you’d be well advised not to read these two books: they’re graphic, gritty, foul-mouthed and populated by unsavoury individuals, many of them without a shred of conscience or compassion. Cosy crime this is not.
Despite clocking up 478 pages, there is not a great deal of incident. But what there is you will find to be intense, uncomfortable reading. While a police procedural crammed with technical details, The Treatment is mainly about paedophilia, but it also touches on trust, love, family, cowardice, and teamwork.
In south London, on the edge of Brockwell Park, a husband and wife are discovered bound and beaten in their house. Their young son Rory is missing… The details of their ordeal are drip-fed, creating suspense and dread. It does not end well for the family. Worse, though, it seems that another family has also been targeted by the same demented perpetrator. Caffery’s private life is a mess; this case has uncanny similarities to the disappearance of his brother Ewan, an event that haunts him even after twenty-five years. We, the reader, get to learn what happened to Ewan; the ending will disappoint some readers, I suspect.
Hayder has the knack of switching from various characters, good and bad, to keep you turning the pages. Nightmarish quality of writing and story.