There are two gripping stories in this novel -- the primary one isn't the crime story (odd for a work of crime fiction), but it is the better executed of the two. Which isn't a slight to the secondary story, at least not intentionally.
Let's start with the crime -- DI Ray Patrick and his team are investigating an international organ smuggling ring. Every time I've run into this kind of story -- in print or on TV -- it has always been effective. Something about the idea of harvesting organs from people (who may or may not survive the process for at least awhile) to transplant into people who may or may not survive (given the less than ideal facilities for such activities) has always disturbed me. Then when my son was diagnosed with renal failure and we were told he'd need a kidney transplant, these kind of stories became more nightmarish for me. So yeah, basically, this was right up my alley.
Thankfully, he'd received his kidney a couple of weeks before I read this one, so it didn't end up costing me sleep. Incidentally, the facts and figures about transplants, the need for them and the lack of donors, etc. all lined up with everything we'd been told. Yes, there are differences in protocols between the two medical systems, but on the whole, what Patrick and the rest learned matched what I'd learned. When it comes to thins kind of thing in novels, I'm always wondering how much the author fudged and how much came from research -- I'm happy to say that Bradley got this right.
So this story -- from how the ring operates to how Patrick and the rest investigate is very satisfying.
Which leaves the primary story. Patrick comes back to work from a nasty automobile accident, mostly recovered from his physical injuries. But that's not the only injury he sustained. Patrick now is dealing with prosopagnosia, aka "face blindness." Through some clever guesswork, and a whole lot of luck, he's never revealed it to anyone other than his ex-wife (so she can help him with his kids). Now back at work, Patrick is attempting to hoodwink everyone into thinking he's okay, because he doesn't want to risk not losing his job.
On the one hand you want to see him pull off his silly scheme, on the other, you want to see him be the man of integrity everyone thinks he is and be honest with his colleagues and friends. Especially when Patrick's inability to discern or remember faces jeopardizes the investigation.
Watching Patrick try to remember people via other means while trying to lead an investigation, and deal with the ramifications of the disorder in his personal life gives the book its emotional weight. And it delivers that in spades.
Patrick's team is full of some pretty well-drawn characters, which also applies for the other people in his life -- grounding the more outlandish flavorings of the other stories. I enjoyed the read and found it gripping -- looking forward to seeing more from Bradley.