Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-32665-4

As usual, Bland tightly fuses Marti MacAlister's personal life with a crime investigation in the 12th eventful outing for the black homicide detective, who must contend with an old nemesis from 2001's Whispers in the Dark . Marti's best friend, Sharon, seems unable to cope with her daughter, Lisa, with whom she's constantly at odds. Partner Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik's wife's multiple sclerosis is worsening. Marti's supportive boss, Lieutenant Dirkowitz, has been replaced by ambitious Gail Nicholson, an African-American woman who considers her a competitor to be disposed of. Worst of all, Sharon's ex-husband, psychopathic killer DeVonte Lutrell, is back seeking vengeance on Sharon and Marti. DeVonte is both a shrewd and reckless serial killer and not above using an innocent child as bait to lure his ex-wife and Marti to their deaths. The mythic city of Lincoln Prairie, where most of the action occurs, has almost as many killings as its larger neighbor, Chicago. Vik and Marti find themselves stretched to their limit as these personal and professional crises converge with deadly results. Despite the book's contrived climax, fans will relish the strong bonds of loyalty, friendship and family Bland celebrates. Agent, Ted Chichak. (Dec. 13)

Reviewed on: 11/08/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
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