cover image Stripped


Brian Freeman, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-312-34044-5

At the start of Freeman's solid second thriller (after 2005's Immoral ), detective Jonathan Stride has left his job in Duluth, Minn., for Las Vegas, Nev. The action begins with a flashback to Sin City in the 1950s and the murder of a famous exotic dancer, a case never fully resolved and having a lot to do with the present-day brutal assassination of a rich young "trust fund baby," MJ Lane, whose dad may have been involved in the earlier murder. As Stride and his new police partner, Amanda Gillen, investigate, they plunge deep into the roots of the city. Freeman depicts his characters well, especially the good-natured Stride; his cop girlfriend, Serena Dial; and his partner, Amanda. Freeman has crafted a strong narrative, rife with sex and violence, though the complex plot at times gets bogged down by overly extensive backstories and a prose style that shades toward the purple. (Oct.)