An emotional, sometimes nerve-wracking tale awaits readers in Brian Freeman’s The Voice Inside (Thomas & Mercer, $24.95, 9781542049047), the second book in the Frost Easton series, after The Night Bird. The novel is the author’s fourteenth work overall, and his experience shows, as his plotting and character creation will draw readers in from page one. The dialogue, too, is realistic and immediate, all adding up to an immersive and thought-provoking experience. Easton is a San Francisco homicide cop—one who loves his city even though it hasn’t always been kind to him. Easton was a lawyer in his younger years, but when a family member became the victim of serial killer Rudy Cutter, Easton switched careers, determined to find justice. He’s not one of the boys—he prefers quiet time with his cat to the cop-bar scene, for starters, and his reputation as an outsider grows even more difficult to bear after he’s forced into an unpopular move regarding the manipulative, ruthless serial killer who’s at the center of the book’s intrigue. Easton’s loneliness is echoed by the worn-down characters around him, each of whom is deeply affected by the lengthy killing spree. Don’t take this for a dreary read, though. Readers will be alternately scared by some of the scenarios in this fast thriller and saddened by the sympathetic Easton’s tough breaks; they will also revel in Freemans unexpected plot swerves and his habit of keeping the reader in the dark as to who exactly stars in a scene—which often means who’s being killed—until it’s over. A major background point in this tale is that the serial killer is himself a victim. That nuance, along with Easton’s infuriating habit of staying on the honest side of the fence no matter what, creates an insistent ambivalence in the readers’ perception of this story. Be prepared for moral dilemmas that last after the final page. Tana French fans are a likely audience for Freeman’s kind, careworn Inspector Easton; the book is also one to give to binge-watchers of the Northern Irish serial-killer TV series The Fall.