cover image In a Heartbeat: A Thriller

In a Heartbeat: A Thriller

Eric Stone / Author Lyford Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89141-

Homicide Detective John Carnes of the Washington, D.C., police can't resist sleeping with every attractive woman he meets in the line of duty-a trait that creates personal angst, trouble at work and the disapproval of his seven-year-old daughter. His condition, treated seriously here as sex addiction, lends his character a depth not to be found elsewhere in this otherwise rigidly formulaic debut by a D.C.-area prosecutor. Young alumnae of the University of Maryland are turning up dead, bound and viciously tormented before being strangled. Investigating are Carnes and his Hispanic partner, supported by a host of other cops, who quip and vamp around the crime scenes to show how inured they've become to violence. These officers aren't the brightest bulbs: it takes them many plodding hours to reach some obvious conclusions about the horseshoe-shaped sign left at the murder scenes; at least one other big clue stumps them as well. In time, Carnes falls in love with a worthy if humorless young marketing manager who, ultimately and predictably, must be rescued before she becomes the killer's next victim. Stone displays an excellent knowledge of procedural matters, and his male characters are sympathetic. His women, however, are either sex kittens or so decent they're dull, and his dialogue and plotting are disappointing. (June)