Unfit to Plead: A Detective Inspector ""Jacko"" Jackson Mystery

Frank Palmer, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (204p) ISBN 978-0-312-10569-3
Adroit procedural detailing and deftly orchestrated glimpses into the heart of evil produce a perceptible sense of menace in Palmer's ( Testimony ) highly assured second mystery. East Midlands career copper ``Jacko'' Jackson is sure he's got his man in the brutal murder of a young girl; the suspect, a childlike psychiatric patient, was once institutionalized for a somewhat similar offense. The young man, deemed incompetent, is locked away rather than tried. Several years of English life pass quickly--miners strike in the mid-80s, Jacko has a son, the English soccer team hopes to qualify for the World Cup. Readers, however, are also privy to the intensifying satanic ramblings of an unnamed man. As several more girls vanish from the area, Jacko faces his fallibility. Palmer brings facets of English society into clear focus in this work, including angry coal miners and overworked beat cops with callous superiors eager for tidy arrests. The killer's ruminations resonate powerfully, never overplayed or rendered melodramatic, as he focuses on Jacko's partner, Sgt. Heather Hurst, and readers wait, tension building, for the inevitable, graphic confrontation. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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