cover image COLD CASE SQUAD


Edna Buchanan, . . Simon & Schuster, $22.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-5053-5

Usual series heroine Britt Montero (The Ice Maiden ; You Only Die Twice ) is nowhere to be seen as Buchanan focuses instead on the Miami Police Department's Cold Case Squad, led by Sgt. Craig Burch: "I breathe new life into old, cold cases and track killers whose trails vanished long ago like footprints on a sea washed beach." Burch is backed by detectives Sam Stone and Pete Nazario and takes orders from Lt. K.C. Riley, who is grieving the death of ex-lover, Kendall McDonald. In fact, all of the squad members have problems both on and off the force, subplots that play out alongside the several murders that command most of the attention. Detective Stone is on the trail of a serial killer who specializes in old ladies, laying the bodies out in meticulously composed death scenes. Stone suspects the killer is an orthodox Jew, clued in by his feisty grandma, who used to work for a Jewish family. The chief case is 12 years old and involves Charles Terrell, who everyone thought was accidentally blown up while working on his car. This cold case heats up quickly when the team chases down Terrell's sexy ex-wife, Natasha, who's dallying with her gardener, Nelson, a naïve Cuban immigrant who provides an amusing Carl Hiassen–like chase scene toward the end. With Buchanan's practiced expertise, all the cases eventually get solved, and the squad's personal problems are either squared away or kept in abeyance for another installment. Buchanan's memorable characters strut their wacky stuff, but, as always, it's the fascinating, hothouse city of Miami that's the real star of the show. Agent, Don Congdon/Michael Congdon. (June)

Forecast : All Buchanan's fans will climb on board for this one, which is set against the same backdrop as her regular series. Eight-city author tour.