We've followed Bob Valentine's career over the series of Tony Black's books and awaited 'Her Cold Eyes' with the expectation of another great read. We were not disappointed. Valentine's character is as strong and determined as ever, despite the ever-present elephant in the room, the state of his heart. And when faced with what turns out to be his most harrowing investigation so far, there is no sign of the newly-promoted DCI slowing down. On the contrary, his commitment to solving his latest case sees him challenge the highest levels of authority and risk his own career into the bargain. Maybe he has become cavalier in his approach? Not one bit. His motivation is powered by a greater force, one that he struggles to understand, but knows, from experience, that he has no alternative but to accept if he is to make peace with himself.
Valentine is haunted by the cold gaze of the body of a young murder victim and the strange circumstances surrounding her death. He begins with a feeling that, what to all intents and purposes looks like an accident, is most certainly not. He is also moved by the pleadings of the girl's mother who protests of the girl's abuse at the hands of her father. As he digs deeper, Valentine uncovers a ring of ritualistic abuse in the highest echelons of society that justifies its evil intent as Satanism. Such is the level of the abuse, that Bob wonders how the world can contain such evil. And as the body count mounts, he battles the higher authorities to have the truth emerge. But, what he faces is a horrible reality; that they would rather dismiss his findings, destroy the evidence and silence his voice.
'Her Cold Eyes' is a compelling book, forcing the reader to face the horrors revealed between its pages. Switching section by section between the narrative of the victim and the police investigation of the case as it unfolds, the characters we encounter are brought clearly to life. At times, the presence of a supernatural element is somewhat disconcerting, though not so much as to spoil the enjoyment of the book. One interesting aspect, for this reader in particular, was the use of a familiar castle setting which gave an added depth to aspects of the story. I too have stood in the castle on which that setting seems to be based and felt a malevolent presence, a feeling that odd things have happened there that defy the socially acceptable.