cover image Blood Marks

Blood Marks

Bill Crider. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (296pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05823-4

Alternating points of view--first-person from a serial killer, third-person about a detective and the killer's latest intended victim--serve Crider well here. The unnamed killer begins, lecturing prissily about the need to plan carefully and to vary methods of murder in order to outwit the police. Nine Houston women have died violently in two years, connected only by their ages--all were in their 20s. As the press starts hinting at possible connections, homicide dick Howland (his hard-boiled status is emphasized by his lack of a given name) is charged with solving the cases. Stumped, he is forced to work with brilliant, misanthropic PD psychologist Dan Romain. Meanwhile, divorcee Casey Buckner and her young daughter move into an apartment complex and quickly meet new neighbors, including Romain. The killer notes that Casey and her daughter must die because of their ``blood marks,'' and, indeed, Howland soon finds that all victims had scars, birthmarks or tattoos. A cartoonish but harrowing flashback to the killer's abused youth leads to a violent if unsurprising climax. Crider writes the Professor Carl Burns and Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries. (June)