Trace Evidence

Elizabeth Becka, Author . Hyperion $22.95 (319p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0174-3

Death is part of daily life for single mother Evelyn James, a forensic scientist in the Cleveland, Ohio, medical examiner's office. In the opening pages of this tepid debut thriller, Evelyn is called to the scene of a bizarre crime: a young woman has been drowned in the Cuyahoga River, her feet submerged in a bucket of cement. When a second victim, who escaped drowning only to be strangled, turns out to be the daughter of Evelyn's long-ago beau, Darryl Pierson (now Cleveland's mayor), Evelyn ventures beyond her job description to pursue the criminals behind the clues. Among those under suspicion: notorious mobster Mario Ashworth, the mayor's childhood friend and the first victim's employer; and overzealous hospital nurse James Neal, who once administered care to each of the murdered girls. As Evelyn inches ever closer to the killer, she fears for the safety of her own teenage daughter, Angel. Becka, a Cape Coral, Fla., forensic scientist, has created a frank, honest protagonist who loves what she does, but too many procedural details encumber rather than enliven the novel. While there's sufficient suspense to keep the pages turning, Becka's offering lacks the crisp prose and poise of Patricia Cornwell and Jan Burke. Agent, Elaine Koster. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/30/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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