Gray Matter

Shirley Kennett, Author
Shirley Kennett, Author Kensington Publishing Corporation $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-57566-079-0
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 317 pages - 978-0-7860-0389-1
Ebook - 308 pages - 978-1-4532-8682-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-61445-0
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Of all the conflicts that drive Kennett's mercurial debut, none is more compelling than that between the very modern virtual-reality program designed to recreate a murder from the killer's point of view and the very primitive serial killer who calls himself Dog and who thinks that eating the brains of his victims will give him their special talents. In parallel fashion, Kennett's two protagonists also represent the new and the old: recently divorced computer expert Penelope Jessica (""PJ"") Gray, working the freshly authorized Computerized Homicide Investigations Project in St. Louis, and leathery Detective Leo Schultz, who is having problems at home and is wary of anything digital. PJ also has a modern, i.e., smart-mouthed, son, who alternates between asking his mother to stop the mushy stuff and accusing her of sleeping with the first man she meets. The narrative can feel disjointed at times, and sometimes seems no more than a springboard to launch a pair of franchise characters. But eventually Kennett's storytelling talent wins out, so that even as PJ and Schultz are tracking Dog (with a little help from the FBI), the killer--with the voices of his victims competing for attention inside his head--is tracking them. At times shaky, at times fractured, this debut ultimately coheres into solid entertainment. (Sept.)
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