Medical technology turns a standard whodunit into a grisly and satisfying thriller. Olshaker (Blood Race, 1989, etc.) tells of the pursuit of a serial killer who chooses an ancient, bloody sacrifice ritual for each of his victims. The narrator, Detective Sandy Mansfield, determines from scant clues that the suspect is a large, right-handed, surgically skilled male—and a copycat of Neville Ramsey, the notorious artist and serial killer who recently committed suicide in prison. His brother, Dr. Nicholas Ramsey, is a successful D.C. neurosurgeon and the prime suspect, but Sandy's legs ``prickle'' whenever she is near him, making her unsure. She closely follows Nicholas's movements; one night, expecting to prevent another murder, she breaks into the house where his car is parked, interrupting a liaison between Ashby Collier, a powerful attorney and...not Nicholas, but his colleague, Dr. Robert Fusillo. This blunder causes Sandy's cronies at the precinct to lose faith in her. Meanwhile the killer draws near: He makes a third victim of her friend, a journalist; he sends her threatening letters; he breaks into her apartment. Sandy dismisses the usual lunatics who eagerly confess to the murders, including Christopher Taylor, a young actor who has had dreams of committing them, until she steals Nicholas's appointment book and finds that Christopher was his patient, as were Ashby and the first victim. All evidence points to Nicholas. Is he carrying on the legacy of his brother? Could Sandy be falling in love with this madman? Sandy mentions her sexy appearance too much, and her scattered menstruation puns (while a killer is climbing through her bedroom window) make it clear that the author is too tickled by his newfound muliebrity to create a convincing female detective, but he is more successful at using the unlikely gimmick of organ transplants and morphic resonance for a credible and stunning solution. A gritty cop story distinguished by its original and brain-teasing ending.
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