WHISPERS IN THE DARK

Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-20379-5

Don't be put off by the dark, forbidding cover of this latest thriller in Bland's popular Marti MacAlister series, because the story is gripping from the opening sentence through its chilling final scene. African-American detective Marti and partner Matthew Jessenovik investigate a 20-year killing spree where victims' severed hands are found protruding from the ground, "fingers curled in a beckoning gesture." Their quest for the perp runs through Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods, encountering the plagues of urban America today: prostitution, drug addiction, AIDS and, inevitably, murder. A look at the origins of some of these intractable problems takes us back to a '70s hippie commune where one of Chicago society's daughters sought refuge after her mother's suicide. Beyond a simple murder case, the novel becomes an engrossing story of the ever more violent conflicts between society's "insiders and the excluded," and Bland's obvious familiarity with urban issues lends credibility to her riveting style. She deftly interweaves a subplot involving Marti's best friend, who's entangled in a terrifying relationship with a serial killer who lures her, and later her unsuspecting teenage daughter, to the Bahamas just before a hurricane nearly destroys the islands. While much blood is spilled in this despairing tale, it is never graphic or sensational, but rather gives an authentic feeling of life in the urban abyss. The last page shows disturbingly how the cycle of violence will continue unabated. Agent, Ted Chichak.(Nov. 12)

Forecast:With no special promotion and bleak subject matter, this quality item could benefit from some aggressive handselling.

Reviewed on: 10/01/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
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