cover image Show of Evil

Show of Evil

William Diehl. Ballantine, $23 (483pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37535-3

This energetic sequel to Diehl's Primal Fear casts the principals of the original in clever role reversals and features enough plot twists, violence and romance to jumpstart a zombie's pulse. Ten years after he won a split-personality defense for angelic-looking serial killer Aaron Stampler, flashy defense attorney Martin Vail, once the bane of Chicago's City Hall, is an A.D.A., while his former antagonist, D.A. Jane Venable, has joined corporate ranks as a leverager of buyouts. Stampler himself is poised for release from Daisyland, Illinois' maximum-security mental institution. At a political fete, Vail and Venable meet for the first time since the trial, and romantic sparks fly. After a twist of fate catapults Vail into the D.A.'s chair, however, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the bar as Venable is maneuvered into defending a long-abused secretary accused of killing her boss. Meanwhile, two survivors of Stampler's murder spree turn up mutilated and ritually marked in the same way as his earlier victims. A visit to Daisyland confirms that the serial killer is still locked up, apparently with no outside contact. Even so, Vail has Stampler watched closely: but the judge who presided at his trial is slaughtered, and Venable barely survives an attack. Few readers will fail to catch on before Vail's team does, but no matter: Diehl's fast pacing and smooth mix of humor, tension and malevolence add up to bracing entertainment. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (June)