cover image Sweet Dreams, Irene

Sweet Dreams, Irene

Jan Burke / Author Simon & Schuster $20 (288p) ISBN 978-0-671-

Politics and murder mix in the second mystery, after Goodnight, Irene , to feature Southern California newspaper reporter Irene Kelly and her homicide detective lover, Frank Harriman. Jacob Henderson, teenaged son of a district attorney candidate whose mudslinging race Irene has been covering, asks her to prevent his father's opposition from announcing that the youth is a member of a satanic cult. Sammy, Jacob's girlfriend, tells Irene that the group is pagan but not satanist. She admits, however, that she and others in the group, most of whom live in a youth shelter, fear the man in a goat's-head mask who is their new leader. That night, Frank's elderly neighbor, founder of the shelter, is found murdered, with a rough drawing of a goat's head left on her front door. Then Sammy leaves Irene a message that she has run away from the shelter, which is run by the murdered woman's grandson. After another gruesome murder and mutilation, Irene is kidnapped and taken to a remote cabin where she is systematically beaten. Graphic torture scenes and Irene's cunningly crafted escape give the tale a jagged, somewhat unexpected edge. (Mar.)