In leaving behind LAPD detective Peter Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus (last seen in Serpent's Tooth, 1997), for this Las Vegas mystery, Kellerman unfortunately also abandoned the warmth and depth of characterization that mark her series' books. Featuring Las Vegas homicide cop, Romulus Poe, in the murder investigation of two prostitutes, this tale also trades in the series' foundation in religion (Orthodox Judaism) for sensational pseudo-scientific and/or supernatural suggestions of lycanthropy. The first prostitute whose badly mutilated corpse is found in the desert was the onetime mistress of Poe's fellow cop Steve Jenkins. That complication exacerbates the two cops' already strained relationship: Poe and Jenkins's wife, Alison, who were high-school lovers, still harbor feelings of attachment. Alison's mental and emotional instability figure large in the narrative, which also involves the above-ground testing of atomic bombs at the Nevada Test Site when Poe and his twin brother, Remus, were infants. (The boys' growth was severely stunted; Remus, the first to be treated with growth hormone, became a seven-foot giant; Rom, treated less aggressively, achieved a normal height). Alison, a teenager when her mother died under suspicious circumstances, may also have been affected by radiation fallout. More deaths and mutilations lead to a climactic action scene at the Test Site, but it and the sketchy resolution are no more convincing than the dialogue, the characterization or the plot in this neon-lit disappointment from a writer capable of much better work. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998 Release date: 08/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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