Second thriller featuring female Vermont forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Stone (Shiny Water, 1997). Dr. Stone, a specialist in child abuse and domestic violence, helped put away Alex B. Willy, a child molester who—during an earlier interview not admissible as evidence—revealed to Stone a whole batch of crimes he wasn't charged with. Though sentenced to 30 years, Willy has now been released on the technicality that the child witnesses in his trial had been overly suggestible. Clearly, Willy can—t let Stone survive knowing what she knows about him, and, indeed, amused messages from him start popping up on her E-mail—messages that point to Willy having bugged her office and having taped her interviews with clients. Willy zeroes in on what he sees as Stone's psychic fault lines, which include the death of her daughter Jordan by SIDS while at day-care. Stone, meanwhile, hires a retired FBI agent to sweep her office for bugs. He finds nothing, but Willy keeps right on sending incredibly up-to-the-moment messages. What to do? Instead of being a sitting duck, Stone wonders whether she should go after Willy herself. At the same time, she's beleaguered by Camille, a deeply unstable rape-and-torture victim who now protects herself with Keeter, a dangerous Rottweiler attack dog. When Camille learns of the threat against Stone, she begins to shadow Stone secretly, with the intention of protecting her, an idea that rapidly proves more hindrance than help. The outcome, a face-off with a psychopathic pedophile, is as predictable as a heroine tied to railroad tracks. Still, there are shocks here, and each plot twist turns on a kink in an insanely brilliant mind. Not Thomas Harris and The Silence of the Lambs by a long shot, but a book steadily gripping in its psychology, despite an overly familiar villain.
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