cover image The Weatherman

The Weatherman

Steve Thayer. Viking Books, $21.95 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84958-1

Strong opening action sequences-particularly of a tornado touching down in the Twin Cities-and an atmospheric TV newsroom setting don't quite compensate for the scattered story line and indulgent prose that mar Thayer's second novel (after Saint Mudd). The police find the first victim, as well as a partial fingerprint, presumably from the killer, outside the Channel 7 studio on the last day of spring, just before a tornado rips a deadly swath through Minneapolis-St. Paul. After two more women are killed, one in summer and one in the fall, the cops step up their efforts to identify the fingerprint and find the ``Calendar Killer.'' When unloved weatherman Dixon Graham Bell is arrested for the murders, newswriter Rick Beanblosson, a disfigured Vietnam vet, teams up with anchorwoman and new romantic interest Andrea Labore to save him from Minnesota's newly reinstated death penalty. Thayer's depiction of TV journalism feels on target, but he fills his cast with so many unusual and often outre characters that the story takes on a cartoonish air. Still, with its reams of meteorological lore, an ironic twist ending and impassioned stance against capital punishment, this should appeal to weather buffs as well as to thriller fans looking for something a bit off the beaten serial-killer path. 60,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)