Michael Prescott, . . Onyx, $7.50 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-451-41169-3

As in many of Prescott's previous books, this psychologically complex thriller features a serial killer who's all the more terrifying because of his basic ordinariness; he's Everyman, twisted. The two protagonists are familiar, too: maverick FBI special agent Tess McCallum (nicknamed "Super Fed" by an adoring media) from Next Victim , and even more freewheeling freelance security agent Abby Sinclair from The Shadow Hunter . The two stubbornly independent women make a compelling, if unlikely, team. While the killer's identity is no secret—he's a vicious kidnapper known as the "Rain Man" who leaves his victims in storm drains to drown unless their ransom is paid on time—Prescott's flair for unexpected plot twists keeps the suspense breathtakingly high to the last chapter. Why does the Rain Man insist on payment from the city of Los Angeles, instead of victims' families? How can he have access to so much insider info without inside help? Will the two loner agents stop the killer before offing each other? The likable protagonists and Prescott's tightly wound plot keep the reader hooked and guessing—and hoping for another matchup of these two heroines, should they survive. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Jan.)