cover image Harlot's Moon: Featuring Psychological Profiler Robert Payne

Harlot's Moon: Featuring Psychological Profiler Robert Payne

Edward Gorman. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18108-6

St. Mallory's Catholic church connects a series of murders in this gripping mystery featuring former FBI psychological profiler Robert Payne (last seen in Hawk Moon, 1996). Now working as an investigator for a law firm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Payne is asked by an old school friend, Monsignor Steven Gray, to look into the murder of Father Daly, a fellow parish priest at St. Mallory's. Father Daly, a counselor known to have had affairs with many of his female clients, was found in a cheap motel with his tongue cut out. Suspicion centers on Ellie Wilson, wife of the parish board president, whose earring was found in Father Daly's motel room. Once Payne finds newspaper clippings in Father Daly's belongings about murders of St. Mallory's parishioners (a prostitute whose eyes had been cut out and a pedophile whose ear had been cut off), he works up a psychological profile of the killer that leads him to someone at St. Mallory's. Payne belongs to the hard-boiled detective school, but Gorman gives him an appealing softer side by detailing his loving relationship with live-in girlfriend Felice, by showing his attention to a young girl with cerebral palsy and by examining his ambivalent feelings for his dying stepfather. The prolific Gorman delivers another smooth page-turner with top-notch mystery production values. (Mar.)