Detective

Arthur Hailey, Author Crown Publishers $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-517-70025-9
Old pro Hailey (The Evening News; Airport; etc.) remains adept at hooking readers with his propulsive brand of storytelling. In this full-throttled thriller, he sweeps readers into a series of gory murders of older married couples in south Florida, the twisted mind of the killer, the intramural politics of the Miami PD and the truly horrible childhood abuse of a major character. Along the way, Hailey finds time for ample musing on the death penalty, Catholicism and the grand jury system. His protagonist is Miami homicide detective Malcolm Ainsley, an ex-priest who spots the clues for the serial murders in the Book of Revelations, successfully picks out the likeliest perp and catches him red-handed. Elroy ""Animal"" Doil, convicted and on death row, asks Ainsley to hear his confession: Doil insists that, yes, he killed 14 people--but he didn't kill the rich and politically powerful parents of Cynthia Ernst, Ainsley's unforgiving ex-lover and PD superior. There's a bit of flat writing (""the aptly named Sunshine State""), but the execution and child-abuse scenes are searing, the procedural detail gripping. It's a measure of Hailey's skill as a storyteller that he gives up the killer way before the end but still manages to maintain the suspense. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
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