The Blue Hour

T. Jefferson Parker, Author Hyperion Books $23.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6288-7
The plot may sound familiar, but surehanded thriller writer Parker (Where Serpents Dance) proves ever-surprising in his latest novel, the story of an unusual pair of police protagonists and a serial killer stalking beautiful women in California's Laguna County. Tim Hess is a retired cop, fighting lung cancer, who's called back to active duty to find the diabolical killer who ""signs"" his murders by eviscerating his victims. His boss and partner in the investigation is an attractive, brusque detective named Merci Rayborn, who quickly dismisses the lone suspect in the case, a paroled, chemically castrated Romanian rapist living under virtual house arrest in an apartment complex near the latest crime scene. Hess stays on the rapist's trail, though, tracking an embalming machine that may be part of the killer's bizarre m.o., but by the time the clues come together, Merci is in murderous hands. Parker places his building blocks with meticulous precision, balancing the feisty yet somewhat melancholic interaction between Hess and Rayborn with a terrifying portrait of a psychopath, although the physical relationship between the two cops does seem a bit forced. The details of the crime are presented with judicious authority as Parker consistently underplays the more sensational aspects of the homicides to keep the narrative unpredictable and dynamic, making it far more gripping than the average serial-killer thriller. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
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