John Luther is a Philadelphia police detective and a man struggling with his own personal demons. Both brilliant and emotionally impulsive, he has made his reputation shining a light where others fear to tread, into the hearts and minds of psychopaths and killers, and the shadowy spaces of his own soul.
Luther was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Winston and Eve Luther. He grew up in the Frankford neighborhood in the Near Northeast section of Philadelphia. After Luther graduated from Frankford High School, he went on to Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. During his senior year, he began dating a fellow student named Zoe Burman. Luther graduated from Penn State summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Afterwards, he moved back to Philadelphia with Zoe, who enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Luther then applied to join the Philadelphia Police Department.
After completing the entire application process, he went on to the Philadelphia Police Academy. Upon graduating from the Police Academy, Luther was assigned as a patrol officer to the 25th Police District in the section of North Philadelphia known as the "Philadelphia Badlands". Soon after, he and Zoe were married. Luther was promoted to the police rank of corporal a year into his career. A year after that promotion, he applied to become a detective. Upon passing the detective promotional exam, Luther was assigned as a detective to the East Detective Division. A couple of years later, he transferred to the Homicide Unit.
As a homicide detective, Luther gained a reputation as being highly proficient in the field of criminal investigative analysis. After seven years as a detective, he was assigned to the newly-established Serious and Serial Crime Unit. Reporting directly to the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, the SSCU is an elite rapid response team with city-wide jurisdiction that uses unconventional psychological profiling techniques to solve investigations of a complex or sensitive nature, such as unusual or repetitive violent crimes.
Within the Serious and Serial Crime Unit, Luther has an extraordinary clearance rate. He commands outstanding loyalty from friends and colleagues. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumors that Luther is bad – not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented by the darker side of humanity. He is an inspired maker of connections and a whirlwind genius. Luther is also dazzling, obsessive, possessed - and sometimes dangerous in the violence of his fixations.
He has paid a heavy price for his obsessive dedication; he suffered a mental breakdown following the traumatic investigation into child serial killer Henry Madsen. On his return to duty, Luther struggles to balance the psychological demands of his work at the same time as trying to save his marriage to his wife, Zoe. Their relationship has been under pressure for a long time. Luther has never been able to prevent himself from becoming emotionally involved in his cases and therefore consumed by the darkness of the crimes he deals with and this has pushed his wife away. While Zoe, a human rights lawyer, continues to love him and admire his single-mindedness, she has had to spend all those years of marriage watching him being consumed by his calling, until it has destroyed the spirit of the young man she married. With Luther, the job always comes first and his dedication is a curse and a blessing; an albatross around both their necks.
He seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends Luther to the brink of madness, making him do things he shouldn't; things way beyond the limits of the law. He serves his own idea of a moral order as much as rules and codes of criminal law. For Luther, his profession is a vocation rather than a job. However as the intensity of his convictions combine with the violence of his passions, they often provoke the question of whether he is a force for good or a man hell bent on self-destruction. As the stakes get ever higher and more personal, his lonely path has threatened to pull him towards the very edge of temptation. Luther's arch-enemy is Alice Morgan, a beautiful multiple-murderess who evaded his grasp on one of his first cases with the SSCU, and with whom he has become locked in a lethal battle of wits.
A brilliant mind. A violent passion. Detective John Luther might just be as dangerous as the depraved criminals he hunts.