cover image Last Known Victim

Last Known Victim

Erica Spindler, . . Mira, $24.95 (443pp) ISBN 978-0-7783-2461-4

Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters failed to wash away evil in bestseller Spindler's grim vision of New Orleans. In the storm's aftermath, police discover a refrigerator stocked with severed right hands, evidence in a string of bizarre murders attributed to “The Handyman.” A shallow grave containing a hand-less body and the badge of Sammy O'Shay, an NOPD captain shot and killed during the hurricane, convinces Capt. Patti O'Shay that the Handyman is responsible for her husband's death. Meanwhile, exotic dancer Yvette Borger claims to have received cryptic, obsessive love notes signed “The Artist,” but the NOPD questions her motives and credibility. When O'Shay picks up on similarities between her Handyman and Borger's Artist, the by-the-book captain finds herself bending the rules to get to the heart of the stripper's story. While strong female leads compete for space, overwritten backstory and subplot sometimes drag on the investigation's urgency. Spindler (Cause for Alarm ) hints throughout at the killer's psychology, but nothing prepares for the ludicrous diagnosis offered at the end. (Oct.)