Past Rites is the third book in Claire Stibbe’s Detective Temeke’s Crime Series and like the first two it packs a wallop. This is a deeply psychological examination of bullies and the cliques that engage in those behaviors. Beyond that Stibbe tackles the subject of child abuse and the subsequent psychological damage it does.
When Temeke is removed from Homicide he is assigned the laborious task of reviewing cold cases. Suddenly one of those cold cases becomes current with the disappearance of nineteen year old Lily Delgado. Lily’s older sister Alice had committed suicide years earlier. After seeing Temeke’s name in the newspaper in reference to a recently closed case, Mrs. Delgado specifically requests his assistance in locating the missing Lily. What happens from that point on is a tension building nightmare.
Suddenly girls are disappearing and being murdered. They all have something in common with Alice and Lily Delgado; they all attended Los Poblanos Academy, a pricey private school. As Temeke and his partner Malin Santiago investigate the disappearance of Lily and attempt to discover the connection between that and the girls from the school a dark secret comes to the surface. The girls were involved in an occult practice revolving around a mysterious book.
Meanwhile the killer is a young man named Gabriel Mann who also seemed to be a target of the bullying. As he takes his revenge on the girl he also searches for the book. Guided by a voice in his head he calls “Demon” he disposes of his victims in a very specific manner.
As all this is occurring there is the familiar political police tension within the police force. Bets are taken on whether Temeke will be able to solve this bizarre crime.
With twists and turns in both the investigation and the private lives of Temeke and Malin the story moves along smoothly. Stibbe weaves her tale with an expert hand, describing police procedures realistically. Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Stibbe uses her knowledge of the area effectively. Dark and moody, the city seems to be on a low boil that suddenly erupts into a volcano of bizarre and violent crimes.
I hope this is not the last of the Detective Temeke series as I see the relationships between the characters evolving and would love t see where things go. I highly recommend this book and the entire series to anyone who enjoys a good old fashioned detective story with a twist.