Nothing in McDermid's wisecracking books about Manchester p.i. Kate Brannigan (Clean Break, 1995, etc.) could have prepared you for this taut study of Handy Andy, the name that psychological profiler Tony Hill has adopted to humanize the faceless S/M connoisseur the Bradfield coppers call the Queer Killer. Tony, who's treating his own sexual hangups by not hanging up on an importunate caller looking for phone sex, is hauled aboard the stalled investigation when bigoted Supt. Tom Cross won't admit the possibility that the three torture-murders are the work of a single hand. In short order Hill and Inspector Carol Jordan have a fourth crime to work with--the mutilated body of a local constable--but it doesn't help; Andy is too savvy, and now too practiced, to leave any traces at the scene. As Andy recounts the details of each murder to a celebratory tape recorder, Cross stumbles badly, planting evidence on a gym manager who bragged about knowing all four victims, beating and arresting him when he tries to flee the country, and abandoning him in his holding cell to a nightmare of justice gone wrong. Even with Cross on suspension, the case still has room for the mole who's leaking info to his lover on the Sentinel Times and for the copycat killer determined to piggyback on the notoriety of Handy Andy, who's planning a last coup against Hill himself. The grim details make this one not for everybody--but if serial killers are your meat, you'll see why McDermid won this year's Gold Dagger from Britain's Crime Writers Association.