Jack Kerley, Author . Dutton $23.95 (307p) ISBN 978-0-525-94821-6

First-time author Kerley debuts with a classically constructed, psychotic-killer-with-a-horrendous-childhood thriller featuring young detective Carson Ryder, himself troubled by a problematic past. Carson and partner Harry Nautilus are the newly formed two-man Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team, referred to as Piss-it by the other members of the Mobile, Ala., police force. While Piss-it's official mandate is the investigation of murders committed by particularly horrendous killers, the formation of the team is actually a public relations scheme. Nevertheless, when a headless body turns up in a local park, Piss-it has its first real case. At the autopsy, Carson meets new hire Dr. Ava Davenelle, who is handling corpse-cutting duties. "She was dour, abrupt, and projected the femininity of a hammer—yet her motions verged on symphonic." Of course he's immediately smitten, though his polite advances are rejected. Turns out she has her own life as well as a job-threatening problem, which Carson must solve while simultaneously identifying the killer who has meanwhile added several more headless victims to his growing list. Carson's secret weapon of detection is his brother, an insane mass-murderer who feeds him clues on the nature of madmen from an asylum, à la Hannibal Lecter. Kerley has certainly mastered the form, and the nail-biter takedown scene is as exciting as any in the business. This is a solid addition to the genre, and a series to look forward to. Agent, Aaron Priest. (June)

Forecast: The rather dull cover is not going to push this book into the hands of thriller readers, but extensive publisher promotion will help. Foreign rights sold in Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Poland, Slovakia and the U.K.; film rights sold to Stone Village Productions.

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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