And now for something completely different from the creator of LAPD detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus (Serpent's Tooth, 1997, etc.). It isn't just that the story's set in Las Vegas, perhaps the only American city with a lower reality quotient than L.A., or that the lead detectives--Metro Homicide Sgt. Romulus Poe and Det. Stephen Jensen--are more concerned with their next sexual encounter than their status as pillars of the community; the real difference is the case itself. It begins with the discovery of ex-casino dancer Brittany Newel, drugged and tortured to death, on the edge of the desert. The showgirl's murder points both backward to the so-called Phantom killing of teacher's aide Janet Doward 25 years ago, and forward to a new and grisly series of slaughters. Even though Poe has a reputation as a crackerjack veteran, and his loyal (albeit sorely tried) girlfriend Dr. Rukmani Kalil is the deputy coroner, Kellerman is less interested in orthodox detective work than in multiplying dread suspicions (the untouchable Vegas player, the whispered demands for underaged girls, the horrific legacy of nuclear testing) and staging telemovie tableaux (after-hours meetings with a knowing prostitute, shoving matches with casino muscle, disappearances sooner or later of most every available female cast member). Less like Kellerman's usual fare than like an X-Files episode on mutant lycanthropy. Decker/Lazarus fans may take heart, or take warning.