cover image Bad Thoughts

Bad Thoughts

Dave Zeltserman. Five Star (ME), $25.95 (275pp) ISBN 978-1-59414-540-7

In Zeltserman's unconvincing third thriller (after Fast Lane), Cambridge, Mass., detective Bill Shannon dreads every February 10th, the anniversary of the day his mother was brutally murdered in their California home when Bill was 13. Around the anniversary, Bill suffers from debilitating blackouts that often cause long stretches of amnesia. As the 20th anniversary approaches, the blackouts become more severe, disrupting Bill's work and home life. Soon he's spiraling out of control, unsure how to tell reality from nightmare. A series of gruesome slayings have Bill questioning whether he himself could be responsible and terrified that Herbert Winters, his mother's killer, has come back to claim him. Crime novelists from Robert B. Parker to Dennis Lehane have found fertile ground in a similar premise and setting, but Zeltserman falls short of their standard. Bill Shannon lacks the depth required for a character who walks the line between victim and potential killer, and instead collapses into stereotype.