cover image Ritual


Mo Hayder, . . Atlantic Monthly, $24 (410pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-992-4

At the start of Hayder's superb third crime novel to feature Det. Insp. Jack Caffery (after The Treatment ), Sgt. Phoebe “Flea” Marley, a police diver, retrieves a severed hand from Bristol harbor. Without a corpse, the investigation stalls, until fingerprints identify the hand as belonging to Ian “Mossy” Mallows, a known heroin junkie. While Caffery pursues the drug angle, Flea uncovers a possible connection to muti , a brand of African witchcraft and traditional medicine that incorporates body parts into its rituals. Digging deeper, Caffery and Flea discover that Mallows may still be alive and the men responsible may be using muti as a cover for even darker purposes. Meanwhile, Flea mourns the accidental death of her parents two years earlier while they were diving in a remote pool in Africa's Kalahari desert. Hayder vividly evokes torture and drug abuse, but the violence is never gratuitous. Readers looking for visceral thrills need look no further than this gritty English series. (Sept.)