cover image Naked Cruelty: A Carmine Delmonico Novel

Naked Cruelty: A Carmine Delmonico Novel

Colleen McCullough, Simon & Schuster, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7831-7

Set in 1968, McCullough's uneven third Carmine Delmonico novel (after Too Many Murders) finds the Holloman, Conn., police captain facing multiple problems. On the crime front, a serial rapist calling himself Didus ineptus, the Linnaean name for the dodo bird, is increasing the violence of his attacks; a vandal strikes at a mall; incipient gang violence threatens area high schools; and the fate of a kidnapping victim strains resources. Within the department, everyone detests bright, beautiful, ambitious detective trainee Helen MacIntosh, the daughter of the president of Holloman's "world-famous institute of higher learning," Chubb University. One lieutenant, Corey Marshall, isn't working out, and another, Morty Jones, has a drinking problem. On the domestic front, Delmonico's wife, Desdemona, may be suffering from postpartum depression and is worsening by the day. The admirable Delmonico holds this character-driven novel together, but awkward plot twists and a climax more silly than shocking undermine credibility. (Jan.)