A mean outbreak of E.coli has thinned the ranks of the Chicago Police Department so ruthlessly that Officers Suze Figueroa and Norm Bennis, along with all their other colleagues who aren’t in the hospital or the morgue, are doing double duty. Besides looking for a thief who’s been picking the pockets of upscale shoppers while they watch noontime cosmetics demonstrations at the city’s most exclusive stores, they’ve been appointed acting detectives in a series of killings of homeless alcoholics. Smarting under the constraints of time and money—the department won’t approve the pricey forensics tests she’s convinced would narrow the field of suspects dramatically—Suze prepares to comb the city for the perp. Stretched to the limit by her caseload and the lack of support she’s getting from her superiors, she doesn’t realize that she ought to start by searching the attic of the home she’s sharing with her brother-in-law, Robert Birch, where she’s helping to nurse her brain-injured sister Sheryl back to health. A dangerous lowlife has gone to earth in Robert’s house, prowled the bedrooms in the family’s absence, eavesdropped on their conversations, eaten their food, worn their clothes, and is now waiting for one of Suze’s late nights at work so that he can have some real fun with aphasic, partially paralyzed Sheryl and her two daughters.
Despite a perfunctory windup of the multiple felonies, the meatiest and most straightforward of Suze’s three procedurals (Good Cop, Bad Cop, 1998, etc.) to date. D’Amato’s headline sleuth, Second City journalist Cat Marsala, had better watch her back.