cover image Virtue Falls

Virtue Falls

Christina Dodd. St. Martin's, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-02841-9

In the predictable first of a new suspense series, bestseller Dodd (Lady in Black) tracks West Coast turmoil of all sorts. For starters, a serial killer who delights in murdering young women and mutilating their children is loose in California. Meanwhile, an earthquake hits the town of Virtue Falls, Wash., with an attendant tsunami and aftershocks. The geologist on the scene, Elizabeth Banner, has crime in her background. Her father was put away decades ago for fatally stabbing her mother, Misty, with a pair of scissors. But did he? Papa Banner has always maintained his innocence, and odd similarities between Misty's death and the serial killer's m.o. raise the terrifying possibility that the Banner killer might still be at large. Steamy romance between Elizabeth and her ex, as well as charming minor characters, such as an amiable retired physician, help alleviate the tedium of this novel, whose conclusion one can see hundreds of pages before the end. 100,000 first printing. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.)