DETECTIVE by Arthur Hailey


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 Hailey (The Evening News, 1990, etc.) makes a welcome return to form with an effectively twisty thriller. On the eve of his execution, serial killer Elroy Doil calls in Malcolm Ainslie, the priest turned Miami detective who put him on death row. In a last confession, the doomed man (suspected of fourteen ritual homicides but convicted of only four) confides that, while he committed most of the murders, there are two victims on Ainslie's list that he did not kill. Although happy to clear the books of many gruesome slayings, the cleric (a scholar whose knowledge of the Book of Revelations led him to Doil) is disturbed enough to reopen the case. The odd casualties out are the politically powerful parents of Cynthia Ernst, until recently an aggressive, ambitious policewoman with whom Malcolm (despite being happily married and the father of a small child) had a torrid affair. Patiently sifting through mounds of evidence old and new, he's eventually able to prove the headline-grabbing butchery of the couple was indeed a copycat murder. He also has enough on his erstwhile paramour to get her indicted. This outcome could prove politically as well as personally embarrassing, since vengeful Cynthia has taken her late father's seat on the city's board of supervisors and used her clout to block Malcolm's promotion from sergeant to lieutenant. How Hailey resolves these conflicts while ensuring that the guilty pay makes for a suspenseful windup as effective as it is cynical. There's also a credible turn at the close as the less than saintly Malcolm weighs a career switch. A police procedural plus, powerfully infused with southern Florida's violent neo-Cuban ambience, and a work that could earn the veteran author a host of new fans.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-517-70025-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997