cover image In the Shadow of the Arch

In the Shadow of the Arch

Robert J. Randisi. Minotaur Books, $24.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18115-4

Police detective Joe Keough moves from New York City to St. Louis in this second adventure (after Alone With the Dead, 1995) and quickly finds that Midwestern streets are mean, too. The transplanted detective has just reported to his new job when a three-year-old boy with bloody pajamas wanders into the stationhouse. At the child's home, Keough finds a blood-drenched scene, but no parents. Although Keough and family counselor Valerie Speck want desperately to locate the child's family, a special unit takes over. Meanwhile, Keough gets a new case: young women with babies in strollers are being kidnapped from shopping-mall parking lots. The babies are found, alive, in dumpsters. Some of the mothers are murdered and others are missing. Keough's Brooklyn-honed experience serves him well, but he needs help from local partners, the FBI and mall rent-a-cops. Randisi uses the banal shopping-center settings to fine dramatic effect, rendering them spooky stalking grounds for a sex murderer. Keough, a regular guy, easily ingratiates himself in a new setting. As Randisi keeps the two-case story moving briskly, avid mystery readers may spot names of authors, and even high-profile fans, in the cast. There's also a nice defense of doughnuts as an essential food group for detectives. (Jan.)