Handyman

Jean Heller, Author
Jean Heller, Author Forge $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-85818-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8125-5081-8
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A pair of plucky heroines adds interest to this otherwise predictable, and graphically violent, suspense novel by Heller (Maximum Impact), an investigative reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. Eugene Rickey, it's quickly revealed, is a serial killer. In his day job, he is a talented and conscientious Tampa, Fla., handyman--a master of the building trades with a solid reputation. But he is also a homicidal maniac who tortures his female victims before killing them. The police and county sheriff's experts follow a series of clues and red herrings as Rickey is shown stalking his targets, first a TV newswoman and then a female architect. Heller's vivid imagination of this demented man's psyche is offset, unfortunately, by some clunky clues and distracting subplots, including one involving sexual harassment in the newsroom. While the author writes taut, powerful prose, moreover, readers may be turned off by the uses to which she puts it: the opening chapter, for all its skillful renderings, is little more than a sustained exercise in literary sadism. (Nov.)
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