The Cherry Pages

Gary Ruffin, Author
Gary Ruffin. Overlook, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-59020-235-7
Reviewed on: 01/28/2013
Release date: 03/07/2013
In Ruffin’s lackluster second mystery featuring Gulf Front, Fla., police chief Sam Cooper (after 2010’s Hot Shot), Coop gets hired to guard British screen star Cherry Page. Cherry, who has come to Atlanta to make a film, has been receiving e-mail messages from someone threatening to sacrifice her to the god Baal. The stalker murders a series of other victims, chronicling his exploits in a breathless journal. Meanwhile, Coop brings Cherry home to Gulf Front when a studio publicity stunt requires the star to vanish. Coop’s off-and-on girlfriend, Penny, is thrilled to meet her idol, but the visit draws the stalker, who attacks Penny instead. Long on sexual and romantic byplay and short on investigation, the narrative takes Cooper literally and figuratively out of his element, leaving little he can do competently but flirt. Though given an interesting backstory, Cherry is neither credible nor comic enough to redeem the illogical plot. (Mar.)