cover image The Lesson of Her Death

The Lesson of Her Death

Jeffery Deaver, C'Higgins, Niall Ed. O'Higgins. Doubleday Books, $18.5 (418pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42481-3

Attorney-author Deaver, whose Manhattan Is My Beat was an Edgar nominee, delivers a harrowing and substantial suspense thriller. The investigation into the murder of Auden University coed Jennie Gebben, whose mutilated body is found in a ``bed of muddied hyacinths,'' coincides with crises in the life of Lt. Bill Corde of New Lebanon, Ind. While the case draws Corde into a maelstrom of academic politics and sexual obsession, his learning-impaired nine-year-old daughter writes stories about a wizard named the Sunshine Man, his teenaged son constructs sexual fantasies from multiple viewings of a science fiction film, and his wife finds comfort with the young professor who tutors their daughter. As more murders occur at the financially endangered college and hysteria about cult killings pervades the community, Corde's family is harassed by snapshots and notes somehow secreted into private areas of the house. As Corde follows an intricate trail emblazoned with sadomasochism, bisexuality and vaulting academic ambition, he is surrounded by well-drawn secondary characters: his children, the villain, certain venal academics and a security guard. Terror steadily accelerates in this page-turner until the final riveting secrets are revealed. (May)