Watch Me

A. J. Holt, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-312-13614-7
Cyberspace serves as a clubhouse for serial killers in this lively, if far-fetched, debut thriller centered on an FBI computer analyst who becomes a deadly vigilante. Special Agent Janet Louise (``Jay'') Fletcher has developed a program called C-Bix that crunches huge amounts of personal data to identify likely violent criminals. Despite the program's effectiveness, however, Jay blows a big serial-murder case by accessing airline records without authorization. Frustrated and disgraced, she is sent on ``detached duty'' to Santa Fe to help catch an arsonist. There, in her spare time, she uses her expertise to solve a local serial killing. But since her evidence is inadmissible in court, she confronts the killer and acts as judge, jury and executioner--in the process discovering a computer bulletin board where the killer had fraternized with other murderers. Jay decides to track down and slay them all, including the board's creator, the dangerous Iceman, who has eluded authorities while actively killing since the 1960s. Meanwhile, the FBI wants to stop both their rogue agent and her prey. Jay's metamorphosis from a committed agent to a renegade getting sexual thrills from vigilante murder doesn't quite wash. Still, Holt is a savvy writer--when she's introduced, Jay is fantasizing that she's Clarice Starling, heroine of The Silence of the Lambs--and the figure of Iceman is compelling, the depiction of the Internet appropriately creepy. With suspense generated through the unraveling of puzzles and the dynamic of the chase, this is an above-average cat-and-mouser that delivers some virtual chills. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; audio rights sold to Dove. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7871-0521-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 370 pages - 978-0-312-95997-5
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