WATCH ME by A.J. Holt


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 A nail-biting first novel in which a rogue FBI agent, armed to the byte with cutting-edge computer weaponry, goes up against a clutch of equally well-heeled serial killers. Special Agent Jay Fletcher's pride and joy is her Criminal Behaviors Index (C-Bix), a program she's developed to flush probable serial killers out of innocent databases. C-Bix is swift, effective, and illegal, and when Jay uses it to get the goods on a serial killer of flight attendants, she ends up banished to Santa Fe as a consultant to Lt. J.M. Cruz, a fire investigator working a series of arson blazes. It's no sweat for a hacker like Jay to pick the well-hidden firebug out of a likely list of suspectsbut not before she's accidentally stumbled onto the trail of a serial killer nicknamed Hand Job for his trademark mutilationsand, through a memorable confrontation with Hand Job, onto Special K, a computerized network whose membership consists entirely of serial killers, refereed by a sysop who calls himself the Wizard. The temptation to log onto the system is irresistible, and Jay takes her vacation time to track Special K subscribers in Chicago and Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, before going up against the Wizard himself. Meanwhile, back at the legitimate FBI, Jay's boss has called on William Hawkins to help him track the Iceman, still another psychopath who enlivened the years before Hawkins's retirement from the Agency with a series of taunting letters. Inevitably, Hawkins finds himself closing in on Jay as well as on his quarry; and, just as inevitably, the Iceman gets wind of the Agency typesone retired, one outlawwho are on his trail. So what if newcomer Holt, like maverick Jay, ends up going over the top, dishing vigilante pleasures with both hands. From the opening grabber, this story is a model of plotting so dazzling it makes most other page-turners look positively anemic. (First printing of 110,000; Literary Guild/Mystery Guild featured alternate)

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13614-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995