Ten of Swords

J. R. Levitt, Author
J. R. Levitt, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-312-05386-4
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Hired to find runaway teen Monica Gasteau, Salt Lake City-based PI Jason Coulard, seen previously in Carnivores , stakes out a well-populated park. There he finally spots Monica, jogging with another girl and two black youths. But shots ring out and the boys are killed. A former homicide cop, Coulard has allies and enemies on the force, and members of both factions turn up to investigate the murders. Although the general consensus is that the crime was racially motivated, Coulard finds deeper connections linking the shootings, the missing teen and a salacious satanic cult. Urging Coulard (and the plot) forward is a constant influx of information from, variously, his former homicide partner; an uncharacteristically forthcoming FBI agent; and a sexy tarot reader. An abundance of convincingly embedded red herrings offsets the rather flat portrayal of Coulard--whenever the hero waxes contemplative, the tone curdles. Former Salt Lake City cop Levitt does far better with action scenes. (Feb.)
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