In a near-miss thriller, a twisted killer strikes only during twisters.
To Police Chief Charlie Glover of Promise, Oklahoma—smack in the heart of Tornado Alley—the deaths were tragic, certainly, but hardly unpredictable. After all, it had been an F-3 (“severe” on the twister-monitoring Fujita Scale), and no one at all familiar with tornado patterns could doubt that big-time damage was in the cards. Yet the house belonging to the late Rob Pepper and his family was still standing, and it shouldn't have been—that was the first anomaly. But it was when Charlie got his first up-close look at the battered victims that he knew a clever murderer had used the storm's violence to camouflage his own, that there was an ugly triple homicide on his plate. On the hands and forearms of all three Charlie saw obvious defensive wounds. Then later, during autopsy, the medical examiner confronted him with a finding that could only be categorized as demented, and he faced the fact that he'd been landed with a case custom-made for headlines and headaches. All three corpses possessed . . . well, call it a posthumous tooth: that is, a tooth that had started out in the mouth of another. Subsequent storms, subsequent victims, subsequent errant teeth. Where did they come from? And what kind of mind would contemplate so weird a transplantation? Charlie, a widower, coping with a teenaged daughter's incipient rebellion, a budding romance on its way to becoming important, and some complicated office politics, now had to chase a killer with a thing about teeth and a savvy about twisters that would make him one hard sociopath to bring down.
Storywriter and second-novelist Blanchard (Darkness Peering, 1999) offers an intriguing cast and some good action scenes, but try as she will, she just can't make a print-bound storm powerful enough to blow readers away.