cover image Voodoo Moon

Voodoo Moon

Edward Gorman, Ed Gorman. Minotaur Books, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24271-8

Veteran crime author and editor Gorman gives psychological profiler and former FBI man Robert Payne (Harlot's Moon, Hawk Moon, etc.) a fourth chance to shine, but he manages only a pale glow in this loosely constructed tale. Brenner, Iowa, seems an unlikely locale for voodoo activity, but local legend supplies an explanation. Wealthy, charismatic and insane Paul Renard, a rapist and murderer who was confined to Sterling Psychiatric Hospital, not only practiced voodoo but also arson. When he burned down the hospital in the late1960s, more than 20 people, patients and staff, perished. Renard escaped and, though once spotted, has eluded capture ever since. Now a recent murder has stirred up the dormant legend. Tandy West, a psychic who's helped the FBI in the past by locating missing bodies, calls in Payne. West has profited from exercising her paranormal gifts on a cable TV show, but unfortunately the show's ratings have slipped to almost zero, along with her psychic powers. Payne, who was once West's lover, may be her only hope--both to solve the murder and to revive her sagging career. Gorman lays on the gothic trappings, including timely thunderstorms, hidden identities and secretly buried bodies, but the plot is just too haphazard and full of loose ends to produce much suspense. Some bright dialogue and Payne's engaging narrative voice stand out in what otherwise seems a halfhearted effort. (Aug.)