Three months after putting a particularly vicious serial killer to death, a Nebraska sheriff’s department faces a new string of child murders that suggest they may have executed the wrong man.
The optimistic take on this new development would be that the latest two deaths are only copycat killings. Reading over Ronald Jeffreys’s trial transcript, though, Nick Morrelli, the Harvard-educated lawyer who all but inherited the sheriff’s job from his masterful father, realizes the picture is much darker. Jeffreys admitted killing one of the three victims—the one whose crime scene least fit the pattern of the others, a pattern that’s continued with the abductions of Danny Alverez and Matthew Tanner. And the profile that visiting FBI expert Maggie O’Dell has drawn up doesn’t resemble Jeffreys nearly as well as several well-respected citizens of Platte City. But since the whole town is in denial, certain that Jeffreys was the perp, and since his own sister, fledgling reporter Christine Hamilton, has suddenly grown so ambitious that she’s constantly embarrassing him in press conferences and in print, what can Nick do? Well, since his bulging muscles are an impressive complement to the unsuitably married Maggie’s shapely legs, he can fall for her. (So much for the promise of hard-nosed forensic detail.) Meantime, since Christine’s the single mother of a ten-year-old son, she can descend into her own hell when he becomes the kidnapper’s latest victim. (So much for the career woman’s dream of having it all.) And readers enticed with the sulfur-and-brimstone promise of a new Hannibal Lecter will have to make do with a monster as unbelievable as he is unsurprising.
First-timer Kava obviously knows the small-town milieu she writes about, though you have to wonder if the men in the real Nebraska are quite as uniformly brutish as in her world. Perhaps the biggest of many disappointments here is that they can’t all get convicted of murder.