cover image A Killer's Essence

A Killer's Essence

Dave Zeltserman. Overlook, $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59020-321-7

In Zeltserman's uneven stand-alone, a crime thriller set in New York City in 2004, NYPD Det. Stan Green's boss dispatches him one night to a lower Manhattan crime scene, where the corpse of a woman, eventually identified as Gail Laurent, has been found. Laurent's killer shot her once in the face, twice in the chest, and also cut off three of her fingers. Surveillance video leads Green to Zachary Lynch, who witnessed the murder. To Green's frustration, Lynch, who suffered an accident causing brain damage that left him unable to see people in the usual way, can only describe the criminal's clothing. Green is sure that the sadism of the crime means that a serial killer is responsible, but leads are scarce, and personal problems, especially Green's strained relationship with his children, who live with his ex in Rhode Island, intrude. Zeltserman (Small Crimes) convincingly portrays the daily grind of police work, but the plot's resolution will satisfy few. (Sept.)