Pain Wears No Mask by Nik Morton is no ordinary thriller. It has an extra dimension that constantly encourages the reader to take an interest in more than a tale of events. It is the book’s central character that provides this extra dimension, because she seems to have two quite different identities. One provides the content of her tale, while the other informs her approach and motives.
As Maggie Weaver, the book’s first person narrator is a policewoman in Newcastle. She is devoted to her husband, also a policeman, and is utterly involved with her work. Like many honest, hard-working law enforcers, Maggie is angered at the suffering of the victims of crime and outraged at the ability of the guilty to avoid punishment. Even greater ire is reserved for the bent cops that facilitate both outcomes. When Maggie Weaver, the policewoman, becomes involved in a particularly brutal case, the final outcome affects herself personally, her marriage and her colleagues. The case is resolved, partially, but the mayhem it generates has permanent consequences.
Sister Rose works in a hostel for the homeless in south London. She has adopted her vocation as a mature woman, trained, taken vows and spent a couple of years as a missionary in Peru. It was there, high in the Andes, working with poor people who have to scratch for a living, that she truly understands the nature of her vocation. When, back in London, Sister Rose finds herself by chance involved in a complex, multiple crime, she resolves to accept the challenge to become involved, to pursue her privately-informed investigation of events. Sister Rose, the compassionate nun, and Maggie Weaver, the experienced crime fighter and policewoman are, of course, the same person.
Maggie’s and Rose’s stories are not presented sequentially, however. Nik Morton begins with the London crime which gradually reveals its relevance to what befell Maggie in Newcastle years before. Thus, both in form and content Pain Wears No Mask transcends its genre. Because of this the reader finds that Sister Rose’s future is also as interesting as her related past. When, via Peru, the story returns to Newcastle to confront the unfinished business of years before, Maggie and Rose combine talents, approaches and identities when events promise the settling of old scores and the possibility of reaching beyond the mere foot-soldiers of injustice.
Pain Wears No Mask is a well written, intriguing story. It will entertain those used to its genre, but it will also provide interest for the general reader.