Val McDermid, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-312-26615-8

Though McDermid skillfully alternates point of view and creates memorable scenes and complex characters, her latest falls short of the high standard set by her previous novel, A Place of Execution (2000), which was an Edgar finalist. Psychology professor Fiona Campbell, a consultant with London's Metropolitan Police, specializes in crime linkage and geographical profiling using sophisticated computer technology. The competitive, self-confident Fiona was recently replaced on a case by another expert, who ended up misleading the police; their suspect, whom Fiona had thought innocent, was eventually released. While Fiona is working with the Spanish police to catch a vicious murderer, a new situation comes to light back in the U.K.: the serial killings of successful thriller writers who are threatened, then murdered following details from their most popular novel. Fiona lives with Kit Martin, author of—you guessed it—popular thrillers about serial killers. Their best friend, Det. Superintendent Steve Preston, needs Fiona's help in yet another investigation. Initially, she refuses to resume working with the police, but the personal dimensions draw her in. After much misdirection, the cases mesh, with a Spanish connection. McDermid builds suspense by inserting passages from the thriller novels, e-mails, crime Web sites and the killer's journal. Unfortunately, the killer's motive is somewhat unconvincing, while the reader can anticipate most of the plot twists. Nonetheless, given the acclaim for A Place of Execution, expect strong sales. (Oct. 12)

FYI:McDermid won Britain's Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel in 1995.

Reviewed on: 09/03/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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