cover image The Dead Letters

The Dead Letters

Tom Piccirilli. Bantam Books, $5.99 (363pp) ISBN 978-0-553-38407-9

Five years ago Eddie Whitt's 5-year-old daughter was murdered by a serial killer. Dubbed ""Killjoy"" by the press, the killer ultimately claimed 21 child victims before disappearing without a trace. Eddie, having long since lost faith in law enforcement, has devoted his life to finding Killjoy, who still torments Whitt with a constant string of ranting letters. But Eddie, like the Nassau County cops, is at a lost to explain the murderer's new modus-operandi: kidnapping infants from abusive homes and giving them to families whose children he killed a half-decade before. No matter how repentant Killjoy may seem, the long-suffering Eddie is determined to hunt him down. Suspense keeps dogged pace with the dark, churning emotions of Eddie; Piccirilli does a scarily precise job delving into the mind of a man so overcome with grief that his irrational actions begin to mirror those of the killer he pursues. Although Piccirilli can push his characters' behavior over the top (Eddie is so crazed with frustration and anger that he gnaws sections of his car until his teeth break), his story keeps the pages turning through to the chilling, poignant end.