cover image The Informant

The Informant

James Grippando. HarperCollins Publishers, $23 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017693-8

The title character of attorney Grippando's second thriller (after The Pardon) is the anonymous man who contacts Miami Tribune reporter Mike Posten and claims that he can predict the next victim of a serial killer who has eluded the FBI's Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit. The informant wants to be paid in cash for what he says he knows. After a brief debate, Posten and his paper pony up for a series of exclusives. Posten also talks to the FBI, in the form of agent Victoria Santos, who is alone in believing that the informant and the killer are different people. It's an unusually cerebral and low-key beginning to a serial-killer thriller, emphasizing procedure, forensics and professional ethics rather than shock or even suspense; the killings that occur during this set-up take place off page. Soon enough, however, the informer/killer question is resolved and Grippando moves his story into more familiar territory, telling an absorbing tale with cool competence. The murders are given a plausible motive and the climax, which takes place on a hijacked cruise ship, surges with tension; even Posten's marital problems are tied neatly to the plot line. Former FBI agent and veteran serial-killer-stalker John Douglas (Mind Hunter) has blurbed this novel as authentic and ""thoroughly convincing""; true--and it's a nail-biter to boot. $60,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio release. (Sept.)