P. J. Parrish, Author . Pinnacle $6.99 (383p) ISBN 978-0-7860-1606-8

A missing child and a truly vicious family of killers make for a brisk race against time in Parrish's latest adventure featuring Florida detective Louis Kincaid (Island of Bones , etc.). Kincaid has just begun to connect romantically with defense attorney Susan Outlaw when her estranged husband, Austin, a globe-trotting businessman of shady ways and means, arrives at her doorstep, wanting time with son Ben. Father and son head off for ice cream, but don't return. Louis follows their trail, which leads back to Austin's office, where police have just discovered the brutally murdered bodies of Austin's partner and secretary. Austin later lands in Louis's custody but Ben remains missing. Austin eventually reveals his botched role in a transaction to purchase Micronesian women as slaves. This lean, fast-paced yarn takes a rather silly final turn, when the ruthless patriarch behind the whole mess, and his motives, are revealed (the slaves weren't used for work or sex but for hunting prey, à la John Saul's Manhattan Hunt Club ). This might have constituted a dandy surprise ending had the back jacket copy not given it away; as it stands, it feels like an afterthought in an otherwise worthwhile thriller. Agent, Maria Carvainis. (Feb.)

FYI: Parrish is the pseudonym of sisters Kristy and Kelly Montee.

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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