Chinese Whispers

Peter May, Author . Poisoned Pen $24.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-59058-608-2

May's fine sixth entry in his contemporary China series (The Firemaker , etc.) offers some fresh variations on the catch-the-serial-killer within an autocratic society plot. A fiend is copying Jack the Ripper's m.o. almost exactly—savagely butchering prostitutes, sending body parts in the mail and boasting of his atrocities in letters. The authorities' efforts to keep the pattern from the public are shattered when Lynn Pan, a Chinese-American, falls victim to the Beijing Ripper. Pan had just shown a new law enforcement tool to Beijing CID section chief Li Yan and his superiors, a brain scan that would make traditional lie detectors obsolete. Li suspects Pan discovered something during the demonstration that led to her murder. As Li pursues that theory, an unknown enemy in a position of power threatens his career and his family. May nicely handles the business of using mental fingerprints to identify the criminal. (Oct.)