On the Death Beat
This uninspired marriage of dark humor and criminal psychology robs suspense from a genre demanding sensationalism. Characters with petty motivations are stripped of believability in Bateman's flimsily constructed narrative. Hoping for membership in the International Great Obituary Writer's Hall of Fame, journalist Jason murders folks in Logan, Utah, for good copy. Graduating from elderly belly dancer Ina Golightly and war veteran Claude "Boots" Hopper to more challenging prey, Jason plays a game of wits with Det. Dan Sheets, leaving a bloody trail of corpses in his wake and then reporting on it. Will Jason make a fatal error as he spars with forensics specialists and frustrated police or will murder truly pay? Awkward point-of-view shifts between wooden characters further hamper the novel. Jason's desires lack the passion or conviction required to emotionally justify his crimes. The result is a diluted thriller unable to arouse delight or dread.