The Thief of All Light

by Bernard Schaffer
Kensington, July 2018, $26

Carrie Santero is a green cop with a burning desire to become a detective. She volunteers for the Anti-Crime Task Force and pulls double shifts in order to learn everything she can. She’s the first female police officer in Coyote Township, Pennsylvania—far out in the western part of the state, where she’s often treated like either a glorified secretary or a sex object.

When Carrie comes across a van with a horrifically mutilated body inside while on a routine patrol, she is finally part of the investigation team, and she’s excited to be working her first big case. But it’s not so thrilling when the killer strikes close to home, taking the young daughter of Carrie’s best friend.

Enter Jacob Rein. Once the partner of Carrie’s boss, Waylon, Rein is a retired detective, a damaged soul, a recluse from society, but an expert in missing children cases. Carrie and Waylon convince him to help locate the missing child, and perhaps stop a serial killer in his tracks.

It must be said that there is graphic sex and violence on the page, including rape. But Bernard Schaffer writes the inside of a cop’s brain—the danger and the darkness that lurks there after too many years on the streets, and the uncertainty and energy when you’re fresh on the job—with care and skill. Santero is young and has watched far too many cops on TV, but her drive, enthusiasm, and optimism are a great balance against Rein’s dark experience and cynicism. This looks to be the first in a violent, but well-paced new series, and I find myself looking forward to seeing what’s next for Santero and Rein.

Erica Ruth Neubauer
Teri Duerr
July 2018