Ruin Value

J. Sydney Jones. Mysterious (Open Road, dist.), $14.99 ISBN 978-1-4804-2691-7

Jones (The Keeper of Hands and three other Viennese mysteries) stumbles with this serial-killer novel set on the eve of the Nuremberg war crime trials in November 1945. Capt. Nathan Morgan, an NYPD homicide detective, and Chief Insp. Werner Beck, a former German Kripo investigator redeemed from his prisoner-of-war status to work on the case, make a promising sleuthing pair. The plot, alas, doesn’t live up to Jones’s standards; nor does it do justice to the underlying idea. Every three days a man turns up dead with his throat slashed; the nationality of each victim differs from those of the previous victims. The killer leaves a scrap of a novel on each body as a clue. The action becomes rote once Morgan encounters American reporter Kate Wallace, his obvious future love interest, who’s come to the city to cover the trial. A partial reveal of the killer’s identity sacrifices surprise for suspense, while the stock scenes that follow fail to generate much tension. Agent: John Talbot, Talbot Fortune Agency. (Oct.)