THE FIGHT CLUB PREDATORS
Some crimes are merely brutal and vicious. Others... well, they're frankly perverse. That's a good word to describe the case which unfolded when the Crossing Lines team investigated a murder apparently committed by an ordinary, respectable, well-to-do couple. A middle-class Bonnie and Clyde? Not quite. Turns out, they were but hapless playthings forced into lethal combat by long-haul European truck drivers.
The truckers' twisted MO was to disable the vehicles of innocent families on the road in Europe, take their kids hostage, and order the parents to enter into gladiatorial combat to the death. The truckers possibly deserved points for originality, if nothing else, but were transformed from predators to prey when the Crossing Lines cops went undercover to take them down.
Crossing Lines hero Carl Hickman can't catch a break. In between cases, he went into a bank in The Hague on what should have been a routine day out. Instead, he found himself taken hostage when the place was hit by a gang of robbers wearing animal masks. It very quickly became clear that these were a frighteningly pragmatic bunch of criminals - they vowed to butcher every person in the room if even one person tried to act the hero.
The leader of the perps was a wily man in a wolf mask who claimed to be good at sniffing out enemies - hence the wolf visage. He was a disturbing mix of criminal thug and anarcho-socialist, venting his frightening fury when he realised two of his own hostages had been refused credit by the bank. The luckless bank manager was then put in a bomb vest which was later detonated. And, to make matters worse, the "robbery" was just a cover for a far grander plan.
THE EUROPE SNIPER
Murderers come in many shapes and flavours, but there's something particularly disturbing about snipers. It's the way they can make themselves comfortable in a discreet nest, sit patiently, then just pick you off from a distance, utterly without warning. That sudden bullet abruptly ending everything while you're going about your daily business.
So the Crossing Lines team were understandably perturbed when one such lone sniper ruthlessly assassinated five people in Paris in broad daylight - including two police officers. To make matters even creepier, he left a note written in "Newspeak", the language author George Orwell created for the dystopian nightmare world of Nineteen Eighty-Four. A politically motivated massacre, or the act of a madman? Either way, the pressure was on - and to make matters worse, he repeated his grim endeavour in Bulgaria.
THE TEXT KILLER
Cyber-bullying is one of the darkest side effects of the digital age, and the Crossing Lines cops came up against one of the worst possible examples when a number of unconnected people inexplicably committed suicide. "Inexplicably" because they were seemingly all at the top of their game - one was a genius scientist about to receive an honour for his research, another was a great musician about to record an album.
The big clue lurked in the dead people's phones. All had all been coerced and cajoled into killing themselves by texts from some unseen psychological sadist, whose eerie screen name was the German word for "Grim Reaper". Not only did the cops somehow have to snare him, but they also had to deal with a maddening legal problem. As suicide isn't actually a crime in Germany, could the "Grim Reaper" actually be convicted of any wrongdoing?
THE BLACK WIDOWS
Gold-digging isn't a crime. That was the initial response from one of the Crossing Lines team when they were invited to look into the case of a "mature" man who'd died soon after getting hitched to a much younger woman. But the full, sinister details soon became unavoidable: the fact that a number of wealthy men were falling victim to the same exact MO. Seduction by a young lady, followed by a sudden debilitating accident, followed by the new wife being the dutiful nursemaid, followed by deterioration and death.
In other words, there seemed to be a Europe-wide gang of "black widows" who were first injuring, then poisoning their husbands in order to get at their loot. Trust the super-cops to take a blunt view of it, though. "Rich old corpse, hungry young bride," is how it was summed up. Ouch.