cover image Dead Connection

Dead Connection

Alafair Burke, . . Holt, $19.95 (319pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7785-8

P utting feisty DA Samantha Kincaid on hold after three novels (Close Case , etc.), Burke introduces a disappointingly dull heroine in 30-year-old NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher. Flamboyant homicide detective Flann McIlroy asks outspoken Ellie to assist in looking into the First Date case, a series of murders seemingly connected by the female victims' subscription to an online-dating site. Flann is relying on “curvy” Ellie as “date bait,” but also hopes that Ellie's past might help with the case: Ellie's father, a Wichita, Kans., cop, died under mysterious circumstances soon after bringing an infamous local serial killer, the College Hill Strangler, to justice. As Ellie and Flann dig deeper into the shady history of the dating site—and its potential link to the Russian mafia—Ellie realizes that the killer is taunting her just as the College Hill Strangler taunted her father. Ellie's character never quite gels, however, and her interactions with the suspects don't provide enough tension or heat to keep pages turning all the way through. (July)